A flexibility expert says these are the three daily stretches that will ‘benefit most people’

A woman performing the child's pose
(Image credit: Shutterstock / JLCo Ana Suanes)

Sprinkling more movement into your day can benefit your mind and body. If you’re looking to up your activity levels but you’re short on ideas, these three stretches from a flexibility expert are a great place to start. 

They’re recommended by Shannon Leggett, a physical therapist of more than 20 years and a certified yoga instructor. She’s selected this trio of moves because they target the “muscles that get tight from all the time we spend sitting”, which is handy if you spend large chunks of your day at a laptop.

“They’re also really easy to do and don’t require any equipment – you can even do them in the office,” Leggett adds. 

A flexibility expert’s top three daily stretches

1. Child's pose

A woman in child's pose

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Luke SW)

Hold for: 3-5 minutes

  • Start in a tabletop position, on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly beneath your hips, and your wrists should be directly beneath your shoulders. 
  • Bring your big toes together and widen your knees slightly to a comfortable position.
  • Sit your hips back towards your heels, and walk your hands out in front of you until your elbows are straight, keeping them shoulder-width apart. 
  • Bring big toes to touch and walk your knees apart to a comfortable distance
  • Let your forehead sink towards the floor and hold this position. 


“Child’s Pose stretches a lot of things at once, so you get a lot of bang for your buck,” Leggett explains. 

“It stretches the lats [the broad muscles stretching across the upper back], lower back, hips, quadriceps [on the front of the thighs] and even the tops of the feet. Having your forehead resting on the floor or a blanket also helps access a branch of the vagus nerve in your face and can be quite relaxing. 

“This is a great position to bring some awareness to our breath and concentrate on breathing diaphragmatically too. The belly resting on our thighs can give us some feedback as to how and where we are breathing. This can be relaxing as well, which is why I encourage people to stay here for a bit.”

2. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

A woman performing a kneeling hip flexor stretch

(Image credit: Shutterstock / RenataP)

Hold for: 3x30 seconds on each leg

  • Start in a high kneeling position, with your thighs vertical and your shins running along the floor behind you.
  • Step one foot forward so your shin is vertical. Make sure your spine is stacked, so there’s a straight line from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone.
  • Keeping this stacked position, move both hips forward as if someone were pulling you forward from the belly button. You should feel a stretch in the front of the leg you stepped forward with. 
  • Leggett warns that there is a tendency to lean your torso forward here, but this will take away from the hip flexor stretch. 


“This move stretches your hip flexors, which can get tight from a lot of sitting, causing hip and lower back pain,” Leggett says. 

3. Pec opener

A woman performing a pec stretch

(Image credit: Shutterstock / RenataP)

Hold for: 3x30 seconds

  • Interlace hands behind your back along your waistline with your palms facing up. Your elbows should be bent.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and draw your elbows in towards your midline.
  • Straighten your elbows to push your hands in towards the floor.
  • Gently lift your chest towards the ceiling, creating a little backbend in the mid-back region, and hold this position. 


“This move stretches the pecs [short for pectoral muscles – the muscles in the chest] which get tight when we sit or stand with our shoulders rounded – this can create issues around our shoulders and neck,” says Leggett. 

Benefits of stretching

Stretching, and any movement for that matter, can help combat the negative effects of sitting still for large parts of the day. And, given most of us now work, travel and unwind while sitting down, this has never been more important. 

“When we sit, some muscles are held in a shortened position, especially the hip flexors,” Leggett explains. “Sitting for long periods, day after day, without doing anything to counteract this shortening can lead to these muscles becoming tight, which can cause lower back pain and hip pain. 

“The same thing goes for the pecs and the lats. Often, people sit in a slouched position which causes their shoulders to roll forward. This shortens the lats and pecs, potentially leading to neck and shoulder issues. We want to maintain the flexibility of our muscles for the health of our joints, and to be able to move in all the ways we need for life.”

It’s not just our body that benefits from stretching either. Leggett says it gives us a rare chance to relax. 

“Taking a break from work to do something physical can get us ‘out of our heads’,” she says. 

“So much of what we concentrate on all day are externally-focused to-do lists, deadlines and schedules. That running dialogue in our head can be relentless and stressful. Taking time to bring some awareness, or mindfulness, to our bodies via stretching can quiet that mind chatter and be very calming.”

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Harry Bullmore
Fitness & Wearables writer

Harry is a huge fan of picking things up, putting them down again and writing about it, which uniquely qualifies him for the position of fitness and wearables writer with TechRadar. 

He’s an NCTJ-qualified journalist with a degree in English and journalism and several years’ experience covering the health and fitness beat. This has involved writing for the likes of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Fit&Well, Live Science and Coach. 

Harry is passionate about all things exercise-related, having spent more than a decade experimenting with a wide range of training styles. He's used strength training, bodybuilding, Pilates, powerlifting, gymnastics, rowing, yoga, running, calisthenics, CrossFit and more to build a fit, functional body (and have fun while doing it). 

When he’s not writing or training, he can usually be found racing his dog Archie up scenic hills in the south west of England or working to complete his NASM-certified personal trainer qualification.