Lethargic lately? If sluggishness has become your baseline (midday slump, we're looking at you), you might lack the energy and enthusiasm to do anything but lie on the couch.
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Rather than reach for a cup of coffee for a caffeine boost, a quick energizing stretch can be the perfect pick-me-up. While it may sound counterintuitive — moving more when you're dead tired —dynamic stretching is a stellar strategy for surmounting sleepiness.
Through gentle movements, dynamic stretching will slowly warm up your body by increasing blood flow to your muscles, tendons and ligaments and safely raising your oxygen levels, Erica Ziel, personal trainer and host of The Core Connections Podcast, tells LIVESTRONG.COM. And when your blood delivers more revitalizing O2 and nutrients throughout your body, your energy levels will naturally lift.
5-Minute Dynamic Stretch Routine
Designed by Ziel, this 5-minute dynamic stretching routine will help you power through the day with more energy minus the caffeine jitters.
"Remember to start slow, focusing on your breath and how your body feels while paying attention to the connection in your core...your true powerhouse for all movement," Ziel says.
Move 1: Standing Cat Cow
- Standing with your hands on a supportive surface like a table, countertop or chair, walk backward until your upper body and arms are parallel with the floor.
- Exhale as you zip up your core, slowly rounding your spine towards the sky to open up your mid back.
- Inhale as you slowly arch your spine, softening your knees, pressing your hands lightly into the stable surface and lengthening out through the top of your head.
“Standing cat cows are super energizing because they increase the mobility in your spine, bringing added blood flow to the area, which also increases the oxygen to your brain,” Ziel says.
Move 2: Standing Rotation
- Start by standing tall, lightly zipping up through your core with arms resting by your sides.
- Exhale as you lift your right heel, rotating toward your left side, and reaching your right arm up and away from you.
- Inhale as you return to the starting position.
- Exhale as you lift your left heel, rotating toward your right side, and reaching your left arm up and away from you.
- Continue alternating sides.
Standing rotations increase your breath and blood flow in a slow and safe manner, and are great for creating length and space through your body while warming up your legs, arms, spine and core, Ziel says.
Move 3: Standing Rotation and Squat
- Begin in a wide, deep squat with your knees aligned with your heels and kneecaps tracking between your second and third toes.
- Exhale as you stand tall, lightly zipping up through your core, and rotate to the left side, reaching your right arm up and away from you.
- Inhale as you return to the center and sit into your squat.
- Exhale as you stand tall, lightly zipping up through your core, and rotate to the right side, reaching your left arm up and away from you.
- Continue alternating sides.
Adding a squat to standing rotations takes this dynamic stretch up a notch. “By warming up your legs, you really get the blood flow moving, which begins to distribute the nutrients needed throughout your body and starts to increase your energy on a cellular level,” Ziel says.
Move 4: Lunge and Twist
- Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, getting as close to a 90-degree bend in the front leg as possible and keeping the knee stacked over your ankle.
- Reach your arms out in front of you and gently twist toward your left side.
- Exhale as you engage your core to stand up, keeping your arms in front of your body and lengthening tall through the top of your head.
- Continue for 10 reps, then switch sides.
“Lunges with a twist are great for warming up your legs and energizing your core, plus they challenge your balance, which heightens your mental response, waking up your body even more,” Ziel says. Keep your range of motion in a comfortable place where you can feel your hamstrings and glutes engaged without knee pain.
Move 5: Side Lunge Pulse
- Start in a wide squat position with your feet parallel to each other, then shift your weight and lunge towards your left side.
- Be sure to send your hips back, keeping your knee, hips and foot aligned and your weight in your heels.
- Do 10 small, slow pulses in the middle of your range of motion. Exhale with each one as you raise up.
- Switch legs and complete 10 pulses on your right side, then complete another round of reps on each side.
“Side lunge pulses are energizing because they get deeper into your hips and glutes,” which are the largest muscles in your body," Ziel says. Be sure to keep your core engaged and avoid dumping into your back.
Move 6: Squat and Arm Raise
- Stand in a wide squat position with your knees aligned with your heels and kneecaps tracking with your second and third toes. Point your hands toward the ground.
- Keep your spine lengthened through the top of your head and engage your abs.
- Exhale as you push through your heels to stand up and reach your arms toward the sky.
- Inhale as you lower your arms and sit back into your wide squat.
- Complete 10 to 20 reps.
Squatting while raising your arms above the heart really begins to move the blood throughout your body to increase your energy, Ziel says.