The 4 Best Moves to Improve Your Flexibility at Home, According to a Trainer

POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly
POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly

Exercise does a body good, but if you don't stretch properly, it can leave you feeling sore. Tight hips or hamstrings, back pain, or an achy chest and shoulders aren't just problematic for future workouts, they can make everyday movements like sitting in a desk chair downright uncomfortable. And if not fixed, over time this can limit your range of motion, leaving you prone to doing your workouts with poor form and possibly injuring yourself.

Keep your joints healthy with these four flexibility exercises from Holly Roser, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Matteo, CA. Each move targets a typical tight zone, helping to keep muscles loose and relieve any tension throughout the body. The only equipment you need is a mat, making this routine one you can easily do first thing in the morning or before bed.

Low Lunge
POPSUGAR Photography | Louisa Larson

Low Lunge

This exercise relieves tension in the hip flexors and can decrease lower back pain.

  • Start with your right foot in front of you, getting into a low lunge.
  • Bring your left knee to the floor and slowly bring your body closer toward your front foot.
  • For a deeper stretch, bring your arms over your head and take a deep breath in for three seconds and out for three seconds, as shown. (In yoga, this is often referred to as a low crescent lunge.)
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and switch to the other leg. For the best results, do this daily on each leg, for two sets of 30 seconds each.
Trunk Twist
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Trunk Twist

Targeting your back and hips, this move is great for pain caused by a weak core or tight muscles as a result of too much sitting or running without proper stretching.

  • Start on your back with your hands on the floor to the side of your body.
  • Drop your knees to the left side of your body while turning your head to the right.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side. Repeat two sets of 30-second reps every day or after your workout.
Hamstring Stretch
POPSUGAR Photography/Louisa Larson

Hamstring Stretch

"Tight hamstrings can hinder your performance in any activity," Roser told POPSUGAR. "Best practice is to stretch your hamstrings when they are warm, such as post-workout or after you've been moving around for a while. Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk for injury."

  • Start on your back with a towel wrapped around the arch of your foot. (You can also do this move without a towel if your flexibility is limited.)
  • Relax your head on the ground and slowly bring your foot toward your head. Stop at the point where you feel your hamstrings start resisting and you feel a good stretch.
  • Make sure the opposite leg is resting firmly on the ground.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and switch to the other leg. Repeat two rounds of 30 seconds on each side daily for best results.
Chest Stretch
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Chest Stretch

If you suffer from limited range of motion in your chest and shoulders, this stretch can open them up, correcting tension that often leaves you leaning forward while lifting weights or running. Try this stretch on the floor, or standing in a doorframe.

  • Start in a seated position. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and place your hands behind your back, directly under your shoulders.
  • Supporting your body with your arms and feet, and lift your hips toward the sky while pressing through your heels.
  • Try to fully extend your hips so that your body is completely straight in a reverse plank or tabletop pose.
  • Slowly bring your butt back to the floor, and repeat for 10 reps.

Doorframe Chest Stretch

  • Start with your right foot forward in a lunge position in an open doorway.
  • Bend your right arm at a 90-degree angle, keeping your shoulder down, and with your palm facing forward on the door frame.
  • Keep your chest up and your neck neutral, hold for 30 seconds, and relax.
  • Switch to the other arm and change feet.
  • Repeat for 30 seconds on each side two times a day.