Fitness Tips

The Stretch Routines That Had Us Saying ‘Ahhh’ This Year

Photo: Getty Images/Vanessa Nunes
From reducing everyday pain and allowing for more enjoyable workouts, to helping manage stress and boosting your mood, the benefits of stretching are simply undeniable. Stretching lengthens tight muscles and loosens fascia, which allows you to move more freely; it increases blood flow throughout your body and brain, which makes you feel more energized and alert; and it promotes the release of endorphins including serotonin, which just make you feel good.

Still, it’s easy to ignore stretching in our hyper-optimized world. Does it close a ring? Burn a calorie? I’ve got energy and motivation to go for a run now; I don’t want to slow myself up with seven minutes of stretching!

To be totally honest, although I know all about the benefits, I sometimes treat stretching the same way I do running errands or opening mail. I avoid it because it takes the teeniest amount of effort (a classic mindset of millennial burnout). But then, once I've actually done it, I feel disproportionately incredible afterwards because I physically feel good, and I know I’ve done something good for myself.

This year, Well+Good’s readers fought the burnout and denied the optimization culture, because our stretching routines were some of our most viewed videos in 2022. We feel so buoyed that all of you are taking the time to nurture your bodies and give yourself what you need.

In that spirit, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite stretching videos of the past year, and organized them so that you can find the right routine for the right moment. A quick lunch break stretch? We’ve got you covered. Something for a tight back and crunched-in chest from sitting all day? You bet. Think of this list as a menu to keep your body limber and your brain energized all year long.

Quick ‘n dirty stretch sessions

If you only have a few minutes to spare, these stress-busting and body-opening workouts will help you quickly press the reset button.

A 9-minute stretch to do at your desk

This quick routine that stretches the hips, neck, shoulders, and piriformis is the antidote to the office chair blues.

6-minute everyday stretches

In just five moves, you’ll release tension in the neck, side body, shoulders, hips, hamstrings. It’s truly something you can do every day.

De-stress in under 12 minutes

Deep breathing, twisting, and opening from base positions of child’s pose, hands and knees, lying on your stomach, and lying on your back will help you let it all go.

 

Long and luxurious stretch routines

When you really want to bask in the chance to limber up, try these longer routines.

A 19-minute full-body stretch

From standing to kneeling to lying down, this 19-minute routine hits all the spots.

 

A 25-minute cooldown stretch

This yoga-inspired flow is all about providing your body with slow, deep, and intentional stretches.

 

Stretch routines by time of day

Sometimes our bodies crave different things at different parts of the day. Here are stretch routines oriented toward what you need for a specific moment.

16-minute morning stretches

This routine will both help you ease into the day and get that blood flowing for some extra energy.

 

12-minute pre-run warm-up stretch

A mobilizing pre-run stretch will help you reach your full range of motion as you hit the pavement or the treadmill.

 

12-minute post-run cool-down stretch

Help your nervous system shift back into a resting state after existing in flight-or-fight during vigorous exercise.

 

7-minute lunch break stretch

Make the most of that lunch break with a little bit of movement to lengthen your spine and open your shoulders.

 

7-minute end of day stretch

Need help transitioning from work to relaxation? This quick stretch routine will help you shake off the day.

 

15-minute bedtime stretch

Get the good vibes flowing with a soothing routine that will help you fall right into bed.

Stretching by body part

When you know where you need some love.

13-minute Pilates head, neck, and shoulder stretch

Pair exercises like neck rolls with breathing and letting your mind drift to release the areas we often carry tension (our neck and shoulders).

 

12-minute stretch for tight hips

Forward folds, butterfly pose, and lunges will bring some relief and blood flow to your hard-working hip region in this 12-minute stretch.

 

10-minute chest-opening stretch

Cat cow, supportive back bends, and twists will help you face the world with reduced back pain and an open heart.

 

14-minute hips and hamstrings stretch

Pedal your feet while in downward dog and tuck your pelvis while lunging to get deep into those lower body stretches.

13-minute stretch for sciatica

Stretching the piriformis, which lies over the sciatic nerve, will give that compressed space some breathing room.

11-minute shoulder and neck stretch (including self massage!)

Give yourself a tender rub down and some loving twists and circles in this stretch that is a true act of self-care.

 

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