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5 stretches to improve your flexibility

Former professional ballerina, now known as Naturally Sassy, shares a stretching routine you can do in your living room.
A hip opener stretch is a great way to cool down after a workout.
A hip opener stretch is a great way to cool down after a workout.TODAY Illustration / Naturally Sassy
/ Source: TODAY

Love to work out, but never have time to stretch? You're not alone. Most people skip this simple practice, but it's a great way to tune into your body and give your muscles some much needed attention.

As the ongoing pandemic and cold winter weather keep many of us hunched over a laptop (and moving less overall), paying attention to our flexibility is more important than ever.

Below is a simple routine from Naturally Sassy, a former ballerina who now creates ballet workout routines through her online studio. It's short, simple and you can do it anywhere. Try this stretch sequence after every workout (or long workday!) this week.

1. Hamstring stretch


Start on your knees and stretch one leg out between your hands. Straighten your back while keeping your core engaged. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, focusing on your breathing. Then switch to the other leg and hold for 30 seconds.

2. Hip flexor and quad stretch


Start in a lunge position with one leg resting on the ground. Tuck your pelvis under and lift your chest high. Press forward and you'll feel the stretch in the hip resting on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other leg.

3. Hip opener


Starting from the same position as above, place your hands on the ground and lift your back leg up off of the ground. Twist your upper body to the right side, pushing through the heel of your foot. Keep your hips square and engage your core during the rotation. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

4. Glute stretch


Start by lying down on your back. Raise your legs into the air at a 90-degree angle. Bend one knee outward, so your ankle is resting on the opposite knee. Place your hands behind the straightened knee and bring it closer to you. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

5. Side bend


Start by sitting on the ground, spread your legs out to the sides. Stretch and reach your right arm to your left leg, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side for 30 seconds. You should feel this through your obliques.