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4 morning stretches you should do every day for achy shoulders, tight hips, stiff back


Admit it. You probably don’t stretch as much as you should right? Don’t worry. I don’t either.

There are two reasons why most people don’t stretch enough:

  1. They don’t know which stretches to do.
  2. They don’t have a lot of time to do them.

I’ll help you fix both of those things, and what I am going to show you will help you feel totally different tomorrow morning. I promise you.

The best part is… it will only take you a couple of minutes!

You may not realize this, but while we sleep we are inadvertently reinforcing the tightness that we’ve developed from the day before.

While we sleep we are inadvertently reinforcing the tightness that we’ve developed from the day before.

Especially if we worked out that day, we tend to heal and shorten overnight. Then we wake up stiff, which leaves us in an unfavorable position for our next workout.

I’ll show you an easy way to fix this that hardly takes up any time at all!

Before we start with the stretches, let’s take a look at the ways a few common sleeping positions can get us into trouble!

4 stretches you should do every morning


Waking up feeling stiff is extremely common, especially if you worked out the day before. 

Different muscle problems can be reinforced with different sleeping positions, so it’s important to be aware of how the way you sleep might be affecting your muscles.

The truth is…

It doesn’t matter which position you sleep in.  No one is immune!

sleeping with your arm under the pillow causes internal rotation and tightness of the shoulder

If you sleep on your side with your arm under or on top of the pillow you could be creating some internal rotation tightness in the shoulder.

Side sleepers, do you sleep in fetal position with your knees pulled up? If your legs are squeezed together, you’re going to get some hip flexor and adductor tightness.

Sleeping with bent knees causes tight hip flexors and adductors

If you sleep in fetal position with your knees pulled up and pressing against each other, you could be getting some hip flexor and adductor tightness.

If you’re a stomach sleeper and your arms are up underneath your head, you’re getting internal rotation of both shoulders. And if your feet are pointed downward, that will cause a tightening of the calves.

stomach sleeping with arms under head causes internal rotation of shoulders

If you sleep on your stomach with your arms beneath your head, you’re creating internal rotation of the shoulders. The feet pointing down also causes tight calf muscles.

Some people say sleeping on your back is the most ergonomic position, but there are some issues with this too.  Your ankles get pulled down by the sheets which can cause that calf tightening.  If your head is propped up, your thoracic spine might be getting stretched out too much.

back sleeping can cause calf stiffness and stretching of thoracic spine

If you sleep on your back the sheets may be pushing down your ankles creating calf stiffness. If your head is propped up it can cause a stretching of the thoracic spine.

The good thing is that the 4 morning stretches I’m about to show you will take care of all of these issues in just a couple of quick minutes!


This first move is actually not a static stretch but rather a dynamic movement.

We’re going to do an RDL movement that gives us two main benefits: practicing the hip hinge and stretching out the hamstrings.

You’ll only need to do 5 reps of this one because we don’t want to overstretch the hamstrings, but the hams can be a chronically tight area in many people from sitting all day.

Practicing the hip hinge movement is important as well, because typically when we bend down, we bend from the knees.  What we want is to learn how to bend from the hips.

The first step is to get into an anterior pelvic tilt by tilting your pelvis forward and arching your lower back. Then slide your hands down your thighs to the knees and come back up.


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rdl hip hinge stretch for stretching hamstrings

You’ll feel a great stretch on your hamstrings if you do this correctly.


The second move is more of a stretch which will help loosen up the hips and the groin.

If you happen to be a side sleeper and pull your legs up into your chest or sleep with your knees pressed together, you probably suffer from tight hip flexors and hip adductors (groin muscles).

It’s important to try to re-establish looseness in these muscles because asymmetrical pulling on the pelvis can cause postural issues, low back pain and stiffness.

This movement will also stretch out the biceps, forearms and finger flexors.  Believe it or not, our biceps can get tight while we’re sleeping if they’re kept in a bent elbow position for hours on end.

To do this, drop down into a deep squat position with your hands between your legs and flat on the floor.  Your palms will be flat with fingers pointing backward.  Then drive your elbows into your legs to drive your knees apart and deepen the groin stretch while at the same time allowing your thighs to help reinforce the straightness of your arms to get that biceps and forearm stretch.


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deep squat groin stretch for hips, groin, biceps, forearms and fingers

Try to keep your chest up to get thoracic extension and keep your heels down to work on that calf tightness too.  Stay here for about 30 seconds.


Next we’re going to really get at those hip flexors and stretch them out.

If you do this right, you’ll be extending through the thoracic spine to regain any lost mobility from sleeping with a rounded upper back supported by the pillow.

First, grab a wooden dowel or a broomstick that you can plant into the ground in front of you outside of your forward leg.  Drop the opposite leg behind you until you feel a deep stretch on the upper front side of your thigh.  From here, reach up to the top of the stick with both hands and twist/lean towards that side to enhance the stretch.


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overhead leaning lunge stretch for hip flexors

You’re getting into that tight lat and that back hip flexor, and you’re getting thoracic extension through the back. Try to stay long and tall, and make sure you do this stretch on both sides for about 30 seconds.


I’ve saved my favorite stretch for last, and this one will help you externally rotate your shoulders and loosen up the posterior deltoids.

When laying on your side or on your stomach, your shoulders are often positioned into internal rotation.  The problem here is that you aren’t just staying like this for a just few minutes, but for 6-8 hours!

What you do is throw the dowel over your shoulder and let it bisect your bicep. Then you reach across, and you sink in, letting the dowel hook on your leg as you see me doing here.

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dowel bisecting biceps

My arm is at about 90 degrees, and as I move my thigh forward I get external rotation of the arm. Then I take my opposite arm and reach across and hook my pinkies of each hand together like this.

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pinkies hooked

Then I rotate to get the back side and posterior delt and extension through the thoracic spine. It just feels horrible, but amazing at the same time!


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standing shoulder stretch

So many components are present in this stretch. I’ve got external rotation, I’ve got thoracic extension, and I’ve loosened up my hip flexors. Make sure to do 30 seconds per side on this exercise.

You should be stretching every morning, but it doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Implement these stretches in 2-3 minutes, and I promise you’re going to feel better for the rest of the day. It’s important to realize that you are doing good things for your body when you train in the gym, but they can lead to tightness if you don’t address it when you wake up in the morning.


  1. Most people don’t stretch enough, either because they don’t know which stretches to do or they don’t have much time.
  2. All of the most common sleeping positions can cause imbalances and tightness in both the upper and lower body, but thankfully just a few minutes of specific morning stretches each day can remedy this.
  3. The RDL Hip Hinge gives you the benefit of practicing the hip hinge and stretching out the hamstrings.
  4. The Deep Squat Groin Stretch loosens not only tight hip flexors and but biceps, forearms and finger flexors.

If you’re looking for a complete program that helps you to not just feel loose, but get strong, ripped and athletic at the same time, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs. Find the program that best matches your goals using our Program Selector and start training like an athlete today!

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