With all of the professional stretching studios you can go to these days, it’s become a covetable thing to have someone else do your stretching for you. It’s something I, as a lazy stretcher, am particularly grateful for. Of course, I can’t do this all the time—which is fine, because a doorway stretch can stand in for a professional stretcher from the comfort of your own home, office, etc. Wherever there’s a doorway, there’s a stretching opportunity to be had.
“At times, stretching on your own can be easier said than done,” says Jeff Brannigan, program director at Stretch*d in New York City. “A simple and accessible tool like a doorway can help you achieve a stretch in areas that can be hard to get on your own.” How convenient! Keep scrolling for seven doorway stretch variations you can try to get loose on your own.
1. Chest: While standing in the doorway, grab a side with each hand so they are placed on the doorframe at an angle slightly above your head. While you are gripping the doorframe, slowly step forward so your arms are now behind you. “You should feel a stretch in the chest, biceps, and forearms,” says Brannigan. His tip? The higher your arms are, the more intense the stretch will be.
2. Side body: Put one foot in front of the other in the doorway, and bend to one side so that you’re holding one side of the door frame with both hands—one closer to the floor, the other closer to the ceiling. While continuing to hold the frame, push slightly with the lower hand and pull slightly with the upper hand. “You should feel a stretch along the side of your torso from the hip to the armpit,” says Brannigan, who says to do both sides for an even stretch.
3. Calf: In the doorway, take a giant step backwards, then place one foot forward and then the other. Lean forward so you’re leaning into the doorway and bracing yourself with a hand on each side. “As you lean forward, keep your rear foot flat on the floor,” says Brannigan. “You should feel a stretch down the back of the leg from the knee to the heel.” Repeat on the other side.
4. Trunk rotation: Keep your feet planted while in the doorway, and rotate your torso so that you’re grabbing one side of the frame with both hands. Continue to rotate as far as you can and use your hands on the frame to assist the movement.
5. Rhomboids/rear deltoids: While standing in the doorway, keep your feet planted and reach your right arm across your body so you’re gripping the side of the doorframe on your left. Grip the frame so your thumb is pointing towards the floor. While gripping, rotate your torso slowly to the right so you’re moving away from the left side of the doorway. “You should feel a stretch around the side and back of your right shoulder,” says Brannigan. To get to the left shoulder, switch arms and do the opposite.
6. Figure four stretch waterskiing: Open up your hip flexors by holding the door frame with one hand, bend both knees while sitting your butt back slightly, and placing your right ankle onto your left thigh right above the knee, hugging the door frame with both hands. “Draw your pelvis back even farther to achieve that waterski moment,” says Toni Melaas, method architect and partner at stretch studio Outer Reach. “If you desire more stretch for your right outer hip, walk your hands down the door frame while keeping your waterskiing pelvis back and slightly up on a diagonal.” Then, switch sides.
7. High lunge: For this one that Melaas recommends, place your left foot on the outside of your door frame. Bend your left knee, hugging it into the side of the frame to support while you slide your right leg back, propping yourself up on your back right toes and pressing your right heel into the door frame behind you. Lift your right inner thigh to straighten it. Don’t lock your back knee—keep it softly bent, and maintain optimal alignment by keeping your front left knee bent only behind the left ankle. “Extend your spine up out of your hips, supporting this length by drawing your abs in and up, wrapping your torso slightly towards the front leg as you draw your left hip back, right hip forward,” says Melaas. Then, change sides.