What do you to do start your day off right?
First thing in the morning, you probably spend a few minutes warming up your body, maybe taking a shower, getting dressed, and eating a healthy, balanced breakfast that will keep your body fueled for the rest of the day.
But what about your brain? What are you doing to jump-start it first thing in the morning?
After a night of rest, your brain has been “reset” and is full of energy. However, it’s going to take some effort to get it working at optimum capacity—just like with your body!
The key, then, is to do the right things that will get your brain active. What can you do? The answer is simple: give it a little workout to increase blood flow!
When you think of circulation, you typically think of your heart pumping blood to your muscles for the exercise you’re doing. And that’s very important! After all, your muscles need oxygen to contract and nutrients to replenish burned energy.
However, the circulation to our brains matters too. Not just in the way that “if we don’t get blood to our brains we die”, either.
Our brains run on the same oxygen and nutrients that power our body. Though a lot of the blood flowing through our circulatory system goes to our muscles and limbs, it’s imperative that you ensure better blood flow to your brain.
How do you do that? The same way you get more blood flowing to your arms or legs: exercise!
That’s right, a few exercises can be an amazing way to boost the circulation to your brain. You can’t exercise the brain itself directly—not in the same manner you exercise your muscles, at least—but you can work the muscles around the brain to increase blood flow.
The best muscles to exercise to improve circulation to your brain are your neck muscles. They’re not only the muscles that support your head, but they’re also the ones most likely to reduce blood flow to your brain. After all, all of the blood vessels run right next to your neck muscles, so any stiffness and swelling in your neck muscles could be accompanied by reduced blood flow.
Best of all, just a few minutes spent doing simple neck stretches and exercises can do wonders to get that blood pumping to your brain!
Shoulder and Head Roll – This stretching exercise helps to loosen up the muscles in your neck, which are directly connected to your shoulder muscles.
Start off with your arms at your side and your head relaxed. Roll your shoulders forward in a lifting circular motion, breathing as you move. Repeat 10 times forward, then 10 times backward. Once you’re done with your shoulders, roll your head on your neck in a circular motion. Rotate 10 times clockwise, then 10 times counterclockwise.
Neck Muscle Stretch – This is an excellent movement to help loosen up tight or sore neck muscles.
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Stand with your arms by your side and your shoulders relaxed. Tilt your head as far to the right as it can go, then reach your right hand up, grasp your head, and pull your head gently farther toward the shoulder. Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, relax your neck, and repeat on the other side. Do this 2-3 times per side to really loosen up the muscles.
Around the World – This series of movements will work the muscles in all directions, helping to loosen things up and increase the flexibility of your neck muscles and joints.
Relax your shoulders and keep your head straight. Start by looking up as high as you can, tilting your head backward. Return to facing forward, then look down until your chin is tucked into your neck. Return to normal once more, then turn as far to the right as possible, then to the left. Look forward and tilt your head to the right, then to the left. You’ll feel the muscles relaxing and the blood flowing in no time!
Neck Pushes – Time to work the muscles a little bit! By strengthening your neck muscles, you increase blood flow to your head and decrease the risk of injury.
Place your right hand on the right side of your head, and press your head firmly against your hand to tense the muscles. Push 5-10 times, then switch to the left side of your head. Continue by placing your hand against your forehead for 5-10 forward flexions, than on the back of your head for 5-10 backward flexions.
Neck Resistance Band Training -- If you’ve got some very lightweight resistance bands, this will be an amazing workout to strengthen your neck.
Kneel on a weight bench or chair, wrap the middle of the resistance band around the back of your head, and grasp the handles in your hands. Using only your neck muscles, lift your head backward to work reverse flexion. Repeat the process forward and to both sides, ideally with the help of a friend to hold the bands.
Just make sure to use VERY lightweight bands! Train your neck muscles slowly, or else you risk injury.
Spend just 10 minutes doing this neck routine every day, and you’ll find that the circulation to your brain drastically improves!
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