Relieve Muscle Tension with 5 Simple Stretches

By Hayley Townsend |

Ease tension and improve your flexibility with gentle moves you can do in a chair.

Muscles often tense as a reaction to stress. Practice these stretches to help relieve tight muscles and dissolve tension.

Start by sitting tall in a sturdy chair. Relax your shoulders by rolling them up toward your ears, then back and down. In this stretching routine, we’ll hold each stretch for 30 – 60 seconds, but feel free to hold for as long as you feel comfortable.

Neck Stretch

Gently lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Tap your shoulders to check-in and make sure they’re evenly leveled. You should feel this stretch along the left side of your neck. Hold this stretch, breathing deeply, for about 30 – 60 seconds. Return your head to a neutral position, then lower your left ear to left shoulder. You’ll feel a nice stretch on the right side of your neck.

Chest Expansion

Sitting tall in your chair, raise both arms up over head, then release down beside you. Walk your hands to the back of the chair. You should feel this stretch in your shoulders and across your chest. Release your shoulder blades down and open your heart to the front of the room. Take your time to elongate your inhalations and exhalations. On your next exhalation, try wrapping your shoulder blades a little deeper around your spine to open the chest and feel a deeper expansion.

Back Stretch

Give yourself a hug! Relax your elbows and wrap your arms around your body, walking your fingers toward the back of your shoulders. You should feel a nice stretch in your upper back. If you’re feeling comfortable, lower your chin to your chest to add a little neck stretch. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, feel free to stop and relax.

Posterior Deltoid Stretch

Sit tall in your chair and wrap your arms around your body to give yourself a hug. Then, slowly lift your elbows away from your body. You’ll feel a stretch in the back of your shoulders. Breathe deeply and hold this stretch for 30 – 60 seconds or for as long as you like, then relax your elbows down.

Side Stretch

Sit tall in your chair. Inhale and stretch your arms up and over head, then release both arms beside you as you exhale. Hold onto the bottom of your chair and grow taller through the crown of your head, allowing your shoulder blades to relax down your back. Next, hold onto the chair with your right hand, then extend your left arm up and gently bend toward the right side of the room. This is a lateral stretch and you should feel it all along the left side of your body. If you feel comfortable here, try using your left shoulder to lift your arm toward the sky for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds, then release your left arm to rest beside you. Next, repeat this side stretch on the right side of your body.

Take time every day to add stretching to your exercise routine. With time, you’ll feel the tension melt away. You can also use these standing stretches to mix it up!

Check Your SilverSneakers Eligibility Instantly

SilverSneakers members can get hundreds of On-Demand workouts, wellness videos, nutrition tips and more. If you have a Medicare Plan, it may include SilverSneakers—at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.

Already a member? Get exclusive fitness content by logging in to or creating your online account here.