It’s no surprise that during the winter months—when we’re bracing ourselves against the unforgiving cold and brisk wind—that our bodies feel even stiffer than usual.
Jeff Brannigan, program director at New York City-based stretching and mobility studio Stretch*d, says that the winter weather truly has an effect on muscles and joints. “People are definitely tighter in the winter in their upper backs, necks, and shoulders,” Brannigan explains to Well+Good. “Our natural inclination is to round forward and curl in when it’s colder to shield our upper bodies from the cold, so this helps contribute to this tightness. That, coupled with long hours behind a desk and maybe even holiday stress leads to stiffness.”
On top of that, people are more sedentary in the winter months and are probably not as willing to go outside for a spontaneous walk or for a casual game of basketball.
If you want to combat this feeling of rigidity in your body but don’t have time in your busy schedule to attend a daily yoga class, there’s good news. According to Brannigan, just 10 minutes of stretching will do the trick. “I recommend at least 10 minutes a day of dynamic stretching to warm up the muscles and loosen up areas of tightness,” he says. “A morning or bedtime routine is great to incorporate as you’re more likely to be stiff from a night of sleep, and it’s easy to remember, like brushing your teeth.
If you need some stretchy inspiration, check out this article we wrote a while back that detail five morning stretches you can do before even leaving your bed, and this one, which gives you six simple yoga poses that are great to do at any point during the day.