Stretch Anytime, Anywhere

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[See previous entries on Jill’s stretching series here and here.]

Stretching, Phase 4:  a way of life.

Look around at your environment to aid you in a stretch.

1. Lean back in your desk chair and arch your back with your arms reaching to the sky once every 30 minutes (and try the pose below, also on the 5 Minute Quick Fix for Upper Back).

2. Walk into a stairwell and let your heels hang off a step to stretch your calves.

3. Stand in a doorway and place your palms on the sides of the door frame and step through to stretch your chest.

4. Lastly, join the “stealth club” like my friend Kelly Starret who manages to incorporate his stretching routine while at a night club!

To stretch or not to stretch? – Read the article.

Check out our solutions for Tight hamstrings or IT Bands.

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs.

So what are you waiting for? Loosen up!

[Reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]

Jill Miller

Jill Miller, C-IAYT, ERYT is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the self-care fitness formats Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method. With more than 30 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, athletics and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her paradigm shifting self-care fitness programming into athletic and medical facility programs internationally. She has crafted original programs for 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox, YogaWorks, and numerous professional sports teams. She and her team of 500+ trainers help you to live better in your body with an emphasis on proprioception, mobility, breath mechanics and recovery. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and International Association of Yoga Therapy conferences. She has the rare ability to translate complex physiological and biomechanical information into accessible, relevant moves that help her students transform pain, dysfunction and injury into robust fitness. Jill is the anatomy columnist for Yoga Journal Magazine and has been featured in Shape, Men’s Journal, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Self, and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Jill is regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the creator of dozens of DVD’s including Treat While You Train with Kelly Starrett DPT and is the author of the internationally bestselling book The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in your Body. Based in Los Angeles, CA, she is a wife and mother of two small children and is currently writing her second book.

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I love the stealth stretching routine – and so nice that it can be done in standing too – both invigorating and providing some loving attention to the glutes!

Alison Higgins

Thank you for the post! I think the comment about the “stealth club” is hilarious because my friends and I have decided to stretch every few hours in the office. We try to do it when our bosses aren’t perusing the area, but of course we got caught by the director on our floor doing shoulder stretches! I think it’s imperative for people who sit at a desk all day to stretch whenever possible. In Yoga Tune Up today, we looked at the outlines of bones in our bodies. A common finding was the depression of the scapula on the… Read more »


The beauty of working with the tune up balls as well is the portability of the activities. Rolling out a foot while on the phone at the office, or placing the balls behind the shoulder when driving. The possibilities are endless!


How great this is. To create always an oportunity to strecth a part of your body that you easily forget and ignore during your daily routines. It is always much better to do few minutes every day that do a lot once a week. No excuse to ignore the parts of the body tha will make our lifes much easier and keeps us healthy.

Loosen Up! How to Stretch Your Way to Flexibility | Yoga Tune Up

[…] and they resist being told to lengthen. Your muscle cells (also called fibers) contain a special stretch receptor that receives signals from your nervous system via a motor neuron. When this signal is […]

Jill D

I like the lesson of anytime/anywhere, making it a part of life for several reasons. First – accessibility. I just began volunteering with an organization working to bring yoga to under-served children and community organizations. These are not beautiful studios with an abundance of props and resources, they are small spaces (or even just the street) with no “stuff.” Being resourceful and using anything that may be around is a great way to bring yoga to any population, and also a wonderful way to extract creativity. One doesnt need a defined space, a special outfit or a particular tool, use… Read more »

Helen McAvoy

Love it! Making a point to utilize a situation to benefit your body is great. Waiting in line at the deli to stretch the gastrocnemius, and soleus is wonderful.


This is a post right up my alley as I am becoming increasing aware of the multitude of props fou d EVERYWHERE around us: on the street, in buildings, in nature. Fkr several months of the year I do my practice outdoors in nature. The angle of the ground can increase the dorsiflexion in the feet, for example. The angle of a branch if a tree can provide opportunities for lateral extensions with closed chains. This can change the firing of the proprioreceptirs to the shoulders, for example, to allow a deeper opening or allow for pnf possibilities that might… Read more »

Gloria Tan

I’m impressed with Kelly’s “stealth club” stretching routine while at a Las Vegas night club…. though that would not be very lady like for us yoginis (who have been known to ditch our yoga pants to wear a dress every now and then, especially while out on the town). Seriously though, I do love that stretch and both teach it and do it —all the time. I have for as long as I remember just found myself stretching anywhere and everywhere….. especially during plane rides or lay overs… On layovers I’d just sit on the floor and do a whole… Read more »

Jamie Leigh

I have a habit of climbing things, or rather, everything. While this is a cool party trick and an awkward first date moment, it is also a neat way to find yourself in a great stretch in an odd place. For instance, on long drives to and from Burning Man I have discovered that sitting in the front seat with my legs up and out the sun roof while flexing at the hips and extending through my spine work wonders to release travel low back pain while giving me the same calming effect of legs up the wall. People also… Read more »


Another great reminder to keep taking our yoga ‘off the mat’ and not just practice yoga in the studio but in every part of our day. I used to do a great deal of walking/hiking for my job and my job responsibilities have shifted over the past couple of years resulting in my sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day. Thanks for the reminder and the tips to bring yoga to my desk!


This definitely gets you thinking and encourages the ida that the universe is not only our work out room but also our yoga room as well.

Nicole Knudson

I don’t think the human body was meant to be stationary. In my eyes life is an ongoing dance! Keeping the body stretched and mobile enables us to move throughout all planes of motion without pain and discomfort. One of my favorite places to work on my balance and flexibility is during prolonged subway rides… The motion makes it even more of a challenge! There is no excuse now for not having time stretch because you can do it anytime anywhere no matter what obstacles are in your way!!

Jen Zweibel

I always forget that I can get away with stretching literally anywhere I am. I am fairly flexible and am usually glued to the computer despite working in a yoga studio, go figure. I need to remind myself that these little stretches will go a long way.


Clever tip that ‘stealth stretching’ can be done anywhere at anytime. There are so many things to do that do not require any props and if we would just make small efforts our bodies would thank us.

Ellice Janus

Sitting at my desk all day at work, working for hours at the computer always leaves me very stiff so I often stretch at my desk and take moments to focus on my breathing. Not only does it help my body feel more at ease and less rigid, but it also refocuses my mind and I am able to be more productive. It is very important to steal those moments where you can stretch (in a stealthy or even sometimes obvious way),

Sylvia Alakusheva

Although, I practice Yoga pretty regularly, the majority of my day is spent in an office, sitting at a desk for 8 to 10 hours! I find that doing little stretching routines, from walking around the office to bending forward in my chair to stretch my legs has been very helpful not only in loosening my body but in waking me up in the middle of the afternoon . I have a lot of tension in my upper back and shoulder area from working on a computer all day so certain shoulder stretches, interlacing the fingers and flexing the arms… Read more »

Jill Miller

Hi Aaron, thanks so much for your data about the specific duration of time needed for ligamentous stretch. Shifting in my chair right now!

Aaron Vanderhoof

Ligaments (the things that hold bone to bone) change after about 5 min. of static stretch. They then pick up velocity, and hit a plateau at about 20min. This is called the “creep” or “viscus” deformity of ligaments (Davis Law) Thus a quick little wiggle every 5 min. or so goes along way.


I have 3 kids and am constantly feeling the strain in my lower back. This stretch is great for me to do during my son’s nap. I often think I need to be in a class to open up and stretch. I have also utilized your suggestion to roll out my forearms on my grocery cart 🙂

JoAnne Firth

Great tips for those of us living fast-paced city life who require a bit of spontaneity in concern to daily self-care rituals! Thanks!


I love this post because I love to find ways to support a pose no matter where I am. I elevated the height of my computer so that the majority of the time I can be doing poses!

Jeffrey Wissler

I could definitely bring this philosophy into my workplace. I am stuck in a chair for my work most of the time and incorporating several stretches into my workday will be a great for me.

Catherine L

I am constantly on the computer and enjoy taking small breaks to rest my eyes and loosen up my muscles. I did this stretch while watching your video and heard a “snap, crackle, pop.” Guess this was just what I needed! These are great simple tips to share. Thanks Jill!


That stretch with the breathing is a good antidote to our lives in at desks, with computers and driving. The breathing also helps me get more mentally alert.

Amanda Z

Great reminder to stretch EVERYWHERE! This is a user friendly exercise for desk dwellers. It’s amazing how we forget to move our body when a screen is staring at us. I will pass this one on to my clients and my husband! Thank you Jill for your video.


I’m with Dawn, I do that chair stretch to open my hips almost every day. With rolling desk chairs it’s great because you can hold onto the edge of your desk and just slide your hips back, attempting to lay your torso down. The forward fold aspect is very calming too – especially helpful after a stressful meeting – and the deep hip opening is much needed after hours of sitting in deep flexion and internal rotation at the hips. Another one I recommend while at a desk chair is planting the fit hip width apart on the ground, knees… Read more »

Tune Up Fitness

Colds can definitely cause musculo-skelatal issues or traumas but there is no way to assess remotely. We suggest seeking out another professional in your area, perhaps a Physical T0herapist or highly trained deep tissue massage therapist such as a Rolfer.


a couple years ago i had a cold and coughed so much and so hard that my back went into spasms. i thought a disc was out or injured because there was so much pain. the xray at the ER showed nothing wrong. it seems like the only time i get this is when i am sick with a cold or the last time i had the flu. what is causing the pain, is it inflammation or what is it. i am down for about a week with this.would like to avoid this at all costs. even the chiropractor does… Read more »

louis jackson

I’m always encouraging my student to practice yoga just a little bit everyday. This takes it a step further. So creative. I can share this immediately. That’s one thing I love about YogaTuneUp: it can take the most advanced practitioner and a beginner and have youfully engaged according to your level.

Dawn Adams

Incorporating stretches into daily life is an important part of practice — after all, we don’t leave our yoga on the mat, but try to take some of the tenets into daily life (not grasping, being present, etc.). This is a way to get the physical benefits of yoga in activities of daily living, and it’s a lot easier to be present if our shoulders aren’t numb and our hips aren’t painful. I love using the chair for daily stealth stretching. Simply moving to the edge of the seat, crossing my right ankle over my left knee and then allowing… Read more »

Andrea Penagos

I hear you Bryn! I constantly stretch at school and in class, eliciting curious glances from teachers and students alike. The more I listen to my body’s messages, the more difficult it is to deny it a good stretch, twist, or neck roll. After sitting in class from 3 hours+, it becomes a necessity to move and dust off my muscles, so there I go arching my back over chairs, rolling my neck and circling my torso… anything I need to make my body happy again. Yay for shameless back archers, neck rollers, and hip-gyrators! 🙂


Love it! I am constantly stretching, but not usually so stealthily. However, that allows people to ask, ..”are you a yoga teacher?” and voila! a new student. I loved this video, as well. I use this in my classes all the time. Shoulders and hips; seems to be almost everybody’s issue-spots.

Laura McIntire

Great tip to get you thinking outside of the box. Stretching doesn’t have to happen only on the yoga mat. This is a great stretch to try out not only during long stints of sitting– but also during long bike rides. Probably a good idea to get off the bike first.


in pilates we wring out the spine and the lungs with a very similar movement – it’s called the “saw”!

Janet Berkowitz

Great article to get one thinking about stretching more often! Airplane trips – Very important to stretch in you are on a long flight, especially. I usually go to the rear of the plane where the flight attendants hang out and where the restrooms are. The back of the last seat is a great place to hold onto for your stretches. I usually do a series of leg stretches to keep circulation going in the legs (at least 2 times on a 5 hour flight) Calf pressing into the chair and extending one leg back at a time – flexing… Read more »