Whether it’s before or after a workout or simply between meetings, stretching is incredibly beneficial for our health. Stretching assists in our mobility, posture, and muscle flexibility, and allows us to exercise better and even live longer.
While there’s no set guideline, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests stretching at least two to three times a week, and that daily stretching is most effective. And the best part is that you don’t need anything more than a doorframe to help you.
“Doorframes make an excellent ‘stretch cage’ to keep your body balanced and in alignment while offering support and stability as you target your tension with ease,” says Clinton Kyles, CMT, sports rehabilitation and massage therapist and Squeeze Massage training specialist.
1. Classic side stretch
Start by lining your hips up with the doorframe and placing your left foot forward and right foot behind it. Grab the right edge of the doorframe with your left hand and a bent elbow. Reach your right arm up and over your head and grab the edge of the left side of the frame, stretching the whole right side of your body. Hold for three to five breaths before repeating on the other side
2. Goalpost stretch
Begin standing or sitting on the right side of the doorframe and bend your right arm to 90 degrees, with your elbow in line with your shoulder. Place your right forearm against the outside of the doorframe so that your palm is flat against it. Keeping your shoulders dropped, head upright, and in a good posture, gently lean forward until you can feel a slight stretch in the right side of your chest and shoulder. Hold for five deep breaths, then switch sides.
3. Hamstring stretch
You’ll need to wear socks for this one. Start lying on your back perpendicular to your doorframe with your but against the wall and left leg bent, foot flat on the frame. Extended your right leg long through the doorway and allow it to rest on the floor (if your hamstrings are tight, you can bend the bottom leg as well). Slowly slide your left heel up the wall until your leg is straight (or until you feel a stretch in the back side of your thigh). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat five times before switching legs.
4. Standing quad stretch
Stand facing the doorframe about one foot away from it. Bend your right knee and grab for that foot or ankle with your right hand. Gently pull it toward your butt while placing your other hand on the doorframe in front of you for support. Rest the top (laces) part of your right foot against the frame behind you so your toes are pointing up. Slowly walk both hands up the frame in front of your while keeping your core engaged. Hold for five deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
5. Spinal Elongation
Begin standing in the middle of the doorframe so your shoulders are flush against each side. With your palms facing away from you, reach both hands up and secure your fingers on the top ledge of the frame. Keep your ribs drawn down toward your hips and and lean your chest slightly forward to lengthen and stretch your shoulders–be sure to keep your shoulders down and out of your ears. Hold for five deep breaths
Note: If you can’t reach the top of the frame, add a small stool or yoga block securely under your feet. If your natural reach is higher, bend your knees until you feel a stretch along the back and spine.
“Spending just 10 minutes in your doorway is an excellent way to incrementally increase your range of motion and joint strength,” Kyles says. “While you’re exploring various stretches with your doorframe, don’t be afraid to get creative. Stretching doesn’t always have to look pretty to be incredibly impactful.”