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Stretching Workout in Just 5 Minutes

Author:

Dr. Mike Esco has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and has over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

Introduction

Flexibility is described as the range of motion around a joint. An optimal range of flexibility is needed for decreasing the risk of many injuries and chronic conditions, such as low back pain. It is a component of physical fitness that is often overlooked. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is that most people think they do not have enough time. After all, "lack of time" is the main excuse for not exercising.

Good news! As with any type of exercise, stretching does not have to take a lot of time. The routine below describes a simple stretching routine that targets some important areas and can be completed in just 5 minutes. The routine can be performed any place. Five stretches are provided with detailed descriptions on proper form. Also included are YouTube videos that demonstrate each movement. Please note: I had no input on the creation of the videos. They are public videos on YouTube that were created by other experts.

Perform each stretch as described. Stretch to an appropriate level of comfort, NOT to the point of pain. Hold each position for the time suggested. If you feel any joint pain with a stretch, don’t do it! Instead, let your doctor know about it. In fact, consult your physician if you have any concerns at all with any type of exercise. Please keep in mind, this routine is intended for people without an injury or chronic condition.

Be aware that you should never stretch a cold muscle. Doing so could cause an injury. It is best to briefly warm-up before stretching. Go for a quick walk or do a few sets of continuous total body movement, such as with jumping jacks, skipping rope, or burpees. Stretching also makes a perfect "cool-down" following any type of aerobic or strength workout.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Stand tall and hold on to something sturdy such as a chair or door knob, if necessary. Your feet should be parallel and hip-width apart.
  2. Reach back and grab your foot in your hand pulling it toward your buttock, while keeping your thighs lined up next to each other. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  3. Perform the stretch to the opposite side.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch Demonstration

Double leg hamstring stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you with your feet together. Your toes should be pointed upward toward your nose (i.e., dorsi flexed). Keep your legs in this position throughout the movement.
  2. Lean forward at the hips while keeping your back flat until you feel a tolerable stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your legs straight. Hold this position for 1 minute.

Double leg hamstring stretch demonstration

Piriformis stretch

  1. Lie back on the floor in a face-up position. Flex both knees and place both feet flat on the floor. Bring your right ankle over your left thigh near the knee.
  2. Grasp the back of your left leg and pull it toward the chest until you feel a deep stretch in the right portion of your bottom. Keep you right knee pointed out to the side. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  3. Perform the stretch to the opposite side.

Piriformis stretch demonstration

Doorway or corner stretch

  1. Stand at the corner of a room or in a doorway. Bend your arms and place the inside of the elbows and forearms on the surface of the wall or doorframe. The elbows should be at the height of your shoulders.
  2. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 1 minute

Doorway stretch demonstration

Neck stretch lateral flexion

  1. Sit on a comfortable chair and place your feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand under the right portion of your bottom. Reach your left hand over your head and place it directly above your right ear.
  2. By using your left hand, slightly pull your head to the left until you feel a comfortable stretch in the right portion of your neck.
  3. Relax briefly. Then, perform the stretch on the opposite side place your right hand above your left ear. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  4. Perform the stretch to the opposite side.

Lateral neck stretch demonstration

Outline of the 5-minute stretching routine

Try to move from one stretch to the next without resting to complete the routine in 5 minutes.

StretchTime

Hip Flexor Stretch

30 seconds on each side

Double Leg Hamstring Stretch

60 seconds

Piriformis Stretch

30 seconds on each side

Doorway Stretch

60 seconds

Lateral Neck Stretch

30 seconds on each side

How many days per week should you stretch?

The increased range of motion that comes with stretching is temporary. So stretching should be performed as much as possible, ideally everyday. But if you cannot get 7 days per week in, then do what you can. Many experts suggest that a minimum of 3 days per week is needed for a lasting increase in flexibility. If you miss a few days, weeks or months, do not worry. It does not take long to see a benefit with consistent stretching. So get started (or start back).

Do you stretch often?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on June 15, 2018:

Thanks Mike. I had learned a lot from going to physical therapy when I first had the injury. And I continue to do the exercises they taught me. That helps avoid surgery. Your article also helped remind me of all the other exercises I need to keep doing to protect the rest of my body.

Mike Esco (author) from Alabama on June 15, 2018:

Hi Glenn. Thank you for the comment. Like you, I had to learn the importance of stretching the hard way, after an injury to my back. If only we knew then what we know now, right? Please let me know if I can help with anything related to your exercise program. Best!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on June 15, 2018:

These are all very useful stretches. I learned how important it is to do stretches before exercise or doing extensive work because I tore my rotator cuff. I wish I knew earlier how important it is.

Mike Esco (author) from Alabama on June 04, 2018:

Thank you for the kind comments, Patty!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 04, 2018:

I like the stretches you describe and have used all of them myself to good results. I find that even older people can do most of them. The video demos are a good addition to the descriptions. Thanks for this article!