6 essential do-anywhere stretches

afitmess
January 18, 2017

Morning! Happiest of Wednesdays to you all. I hope your week is going well. I don’t know about you, but after all the holidays and snow days, I am ready to get back into a normal routine.

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I have a great post for you all today. I was asked by a reader to share a quick and effective stretching routine that can be done daily. In this sequence, I’ve focused on stretches that are ideal for counteracting all the time we spend sitting at the office or driving back and forth from work, school, etc. I’ve included several hip and chest openers as well as some neck and shoulder work. These stretches can be performed at any time and should take you no more than 10 minutes tops. I’ve included descriptions below and some additional guidance below. Please let me know if you have questions!

 

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Stretch focus areas:

  • Hip flexors
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Upper back
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Calf

 

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#1 Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Targets: hip flexor/psoas and quads

How to perform:

  1. Kneel on a mat or soft surface and bring one knee up, placing your foot flat on the floor. Extend the opposite leg behind you with the top of your foot touching the floor.
  2. Shift forward slightly until you feel a good stretch in your hip. Be sure to contract your glutes and tuck your pelvis under. Hold this position for 60 seconds. If you feel comfortable doing so, extend your arm on the side of whatever knee is down up into the air. Your bicep should be close to your ear.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

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#2 Figure-4 stretch

Targets: hips, glutes and piriformis

How to perform:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your right leg up and cross it over your left leg, bringing the right ankle to rest on the top of the left knee.
  3. Loop your hands behind the hamstring of your left leg and slowly lift your leg off the ground, pulling your leg closer to your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in your glutes and hips.
  4. Hold for 60 seconds and then switch sides.

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Figure-4 can also be done seated in a chair or standing. Use caution when performing this stretch and only go as far as you feel comfortable. Nothing should hurt.

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#3 Standing lat stretch

Targets: Latissimus dorsi and upper/lower back

How to perform:

  1. Stand a few feet away from a railing or bar with your feet hips-width apart. Place your hands on the bar and slowly lower your torso down, pulling your hips back until you feel a good stretch in your lats and upper back.
  2. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

* Note: you can also perform this stretch while holding on to the straps of a TRX.

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#4 Wall pec stretch

Targets: chest/pectoral muscles and shoulders

How to perform:

  1. Place your hand on a wall or the inside of a doorway and slowly rotate your torso in the opposite direction.
  2. Be sure to keep your extended arm level with or above your shoulder.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly release.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

* This stretch is great for improving posture and fixing internally rotated shoulders.

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#5 Neck stretch

Targets: neck and upper back

How to perform:

  1. Place your right hand on top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the right. Using very gentle pressure, encourage your head to go a bit deeper to the right side. Bend your left arm behind you to isolate the stretch even more.
  2. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides, repeating the same sequence on your left side.

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#6 Calf stretch

Targets: calf muscles, hamstrings, and hips

How to perform:

  1. Place your hands on a wall and extend one foot slightly behind you.
  2. Keeping your feet planted on the ground, lean forward slightly.
  3. You should feel a good stretch in the calf muscle of the leg that is extended behind you.
  4. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

* This stretch can also be performed on stairs by placing the front half of your feet on the step and letting your heels drop down to the ground.

 

I hope you enjoy these stretches. Please let me know what you think!

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