A stretching routine should be part of everyone’s fitness regimen. But it’s not always easy to get to the gym and find the time to stretch on a mat. Fortunately, you can do these stretches anywhere—at most, you’ll need a chair.
Here are two different kinds of stretches—no-hold stretches that you can do anywhere, anytime, and standard stretches for which you warm up for five minutes and then hold for at least 20 seconds, ideally 60.
Together, these stretches work on your upper and lower body. Repeat each one at least three times.
Upper body no-hold stretches…
Elbow touches (for the chest). Place your hands on your shoulders (left on left, right on right), elbows pointing forward as much as possible. Slowly move your elbows out to the side as far as is comfortable, pinching the shoulder blades together, and hold for just a few seconds. Bring your elbows back to the starting position and repeat.
Shoulder rolls (for the upper back). Sit with proper posture in a stable chair. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Exhaling through your nose, roll your shoulders forward, attempting to touch your shoulders together. Now inhale and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together, moving your shoulders back and opening up your chest.
Apple pickers (for the shoulders). Place your hands on your shoulders (left hand on left, right on right). Then slowly raise your right hand as high up as is comfortable—reach for that apple! Return to the start position, and repeat with the left hand. Keep good posture throughout.
These are standard “hold ’em” stretches…
Seated knee to chest (for the lower back and gluteal muscles/butt). Sit in a stable chair with your feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands beneath your left leg. Pull your left knee toward your chest with your hands and hold, feeling the stretch in the gluteal and low-back area. Hold for at least 20 seconds. Return to start position, and repeat with other leg.
Rear calf stretch (for your calves). Stand behind a chair, placing both hands on the back of the chair. Keeping the heel down, slide your right leg as far back as you can. Bend your left knee until the desired stretch is felt in the calf area. Hold this stretch for at least 20 seconds.