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I'm 45 and play squash once or twice a week in the evenings.

I am an early riser, but have never been an early morning exerciser. I do enjoy early morning meditation, though. I am finding that I am stiffening up a little with age and am looking for a good early morning stretch routine that would help me maintain flexibility into old age and help me to get me up and running in the morning. A wouldn't be averse to the routine including some light cardio, like jogging on the spot, or skipping, but I am not looking for the routine to be my main source of exercise, just something to 'get me going' in the morning.

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Are you stiff only in the morning for the first hour or are you finding yourself getting stiffer throughout the day? –  Robin Ashe Jul 3 '12 at 8:15
    
About the same really. I should probably rather use the term inflexible, rather than stiff. After a hard game of squash, I am stiff the next day; I'm given to understand that playing squash tends to make your muscles shorten and I am finding that I really battle to do things like touch my toes. –  Martin Duys Jul 4 '12 at 5:09
    
I would think it's more likely DOMS that's causing you grief after playing squash than any muscle shortening. How balanced is your strength for agonist and antagonist muscle pairs? Having one be significantly stronger/weaker than the other will lead to flexibility problems. –  Robin Ashe Jul 4 '12 at 8:19

3 Answers 3

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I agree with @Dave Liepman and @Fredob that yoga is a great way to keep flexible and balanced. Yoga is ideal for growing older gracefully with flexibility and balance. Given that you meditate, yoga should be a nice fit for you.

My favorite morning routine however, is Joseph Weisberg's 3 minute stretching routine that targets the whole body with six 30 second exercises. These target the spine, torso, hips and legs. Some of the exercises are yoga stretches like child's pose and cobra. After a quick warm up as you describe, the 3 minute stretching routine is effective and short enough to keep it up consistently. The routine is so compact that I don't have any excuses not to do it.

After squash, be sure to do some stretches while you are still warm. Static stretches after exercise can help with your flexibility. If you are interested in the 3 minute book, I'd appreciate it if you use our link 3 Minutes to a pain-free life. Thanks. It also includes specific stretches for specific problem areas.

Also, take a look at other areas of your life where you may be stiffening up. Prolonged sitting is often a culprit. If that applies to you, this q/a has some exercises specifically addressing a balance of stretching and strengthening as it relates to sitting.

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I've found success with two approaches:

  • Yoga, whatever flavor or sequence you happen to like. What I did was go to classes several times a week for a month, then practice at home in the morning with intermittent ventures to group classes.
  • Tom Kurz' morning stretch and warm-up series, recommended for combat sports and general health. You take a few minutes to rotate all your joints, then get your heart rate up with five minutes of anything (running in place, jogging, shadowboxing, whatever), then do arm and leg swings to get your shoulder and hip joints mobilized for the day. This video shows something roughly similar.
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This. Whatever you do should be active motion. Static stretches are not indicated before exercise at any time, the last thing I'd want to do is static stretches first thing out of bed. –  JohnP Jul 2 '12 at 20:47

I try do 5-6 straight forward yoga "sun salutations" every morning. The purpose is to get myself started, not to be - as you said - the main source of exercise.

For me, this takes about 5-7 minutes. Last year (2011), of my 366 yoga trainings, this routine was counted for more than half (196 ones)

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