4 Stretches You Can Do While Watching TV

Fall is officially in full swing, which means most of your favorite TV shows are returning. From House of the Dragon to Handmaid’s Tale to the final season of Dead to Me, there’s no shortage of content to consume.

With so many options, it’s not difficult to rack up five or six hours of staring at a screen. On top of that, if you’re a football fan who likes to watch NFL games, you may find yourself without much time to do anything besides sit in front of the television.

While all of this TV time might stimulate your brain and give you lots of fodder for conversation with your friends, it’s certainly not stimulating your muscles.

“Our bodies want to move and are made for movement, so when we sit for long periods of time, muscles shorten and tension builds up from the lack of use,” says Kelsey Decker, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer and education coordinator for StretchLab.

Ideally, you should be moving your body throughout the day and fitting in at least 30 minutes of exercise. However, some days it’s more challenging to leave your bed than others — and a TV binge is all you feel capable of (which is perfectly okay). Fortunately, stretching can be a simple, effective way to counteract the impact sitting has on your body, according to Decker.

“Completing several stretches is a great way to increase blood flow throughout the body, release muscle tension, and increase oxygen to help with overall energy and focus,” Decker adds.

Your lower back, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, chest, and core muscles are most likely to get tight from sitting for long periods of time, so below are some stretches Decker recommends trying during your next TV binge, inspired by this year’s most popular television shows.

lying chest opener stretch

“The (Foam) R(oll)ings of Power” aka Lying Chest Opener

Ideally, a long foam roller is preferred for this stretch to support the base of your head and lower back, but a short foam roller can work as long as it reaches from your mid-back to the base of your head.

You can keep your feet flat on the floor or extend them long, however you feel balanced, and then lie down on the foam roller. The foam roller should be centered on the spine so the chest opens up while gravity pulls the shoulders towards the ground.

This position allows for ultimate relaxation as there’s minimal work involved. While lying down, take deep breaths to release tension and increase overall blood flow to your muscles.

Decker recommends holding this stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, then reach your arms up and overhead to lengthen through the latissimus dorsi (lats).

“Abbott Elementary Textbook Stretch” aka Lying Rotational Stretch

This move is excellent for stretching your back and chest. Start by lying in the fetal position on one side, then extend your bottom leg and keep your top leg bent.

Extend your arms out in front of you like a “closed textbook” and slowly open the top arm until it reaches the floor behind you and your chest is facing the ceiling. This movement allows for rotation in your spine and potentially a stretch in the chest, hips, and lower back.

Once you reach the full “open textbook” position, take three to four deep breaths to release any tightness in the upper or mid back and to help bring your arm closer toward the ground.

“The Lotus Lunge” aka Runner’s Lunge

Decker cites this as one of her favorite stretches, targeting your hip flexors and back. And with seven episodes of The White Lotus: Season 2 coming to HBO Max this fall, your hip flexors are definitely going to get tight from sitting.

Start in a low lunge, with one knee forward in a kneeling position and your back leg extended straight behind you. Place both hands on the inside of your front knee. Feel free to lower your back knee to the ground for support. Keeping it off the ground increases the stretch in your hip flexors.

To add a lumbar rotation, take the hand closest to your front leg off the ground and rotate it up toward the sky, following with your eyes. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat this stretch several times on each side.

“Wednesday Wipers” aka Windshield Wipers

Inspired by Netflix’s spin-off of The Addams Family coming in November, Wednesday Wipers are optimal for internal and external rotation of the hips since our hips are often in a neutral position.

To perform this one, start in a seated position with your knees bent and your weight leaning into your hands behind your body. Then slowly drop both of your knees to the left and feel the internal and external stretch through both hips.

Once you’ve held this stretch on one side for several seconds, “wipe the windshields” to the other side. Repeat this sequence several times.

This stretch doesn’t need to be held for too long (five to 15 seconds), but a slow transition back and forth several times is ideal.

If you still feel tight after doing these stretches in front of the TV, grab a partner to help you with some assisted stretches to achieve an even deeper release, or see an expert Flexologist at StretchLab. After all, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American spends more than four hours a day watching TV — so the deeper you can stretch, the better!

Move Recovery & Mobility

About David Robertson

David Robertson has been teaching group fitness for over nine years. He has degrees in Advertising and Kinesiology from the University of Illinois and is certified in Les Mills BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK, BODYJAM and Core, among other formats. Based in Chicago, he currently teaches at the Chicago Athletic Clubs and Fitness Formula Clubs. Previously he has taught at Flywheel Sports, CycleBar and OrangeTheory Fitness. By day, he works as a publicist for several lifestyle brands at a local public relations agency.