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Stretch of the Week: Chair Forward Fold

by Athletico2 Comments

Week 2 of June brings us to the Chair Forward Fold

Those of you who sit for long periods of time can end up with a tight lower back, hip, and thigh muscles. This week’s stretch will target all those areas!

If you have a history of low back conditions such as pain, bulging/herniated discs, hip problems or hamstring strains or tears, this may not be the right exercise for you. As with beginning any exercise program, it is recommended to consult with your physician, physical or occupational therapist to determine which exercises are best for you.

You will need a chair, preferably one without wheels. If your chair has wheels, make sure they are locked in place.

Performing the Chair Forward Fold:

stretch of the week: chair forward fold


Sit at the end of the chair. Feet are flat on the floor, torso width apart. Place your hands on your knees. Next, inhale and sit up straight and tall. On the exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine, keeping your abdominal muscles engaged as you start to fold forward while bending the elbows. When bending forward, lead with your chest, keeping your head in line with your shoulders. If you are very tight through the backside, stay here. Work on keeping back flat, sit bones in the chair, and feet on floor. See photo marked beginner.


Use the beginner set up as described above. If you can fold down between the inner thighs from the beginner set up without difficulty, then continue, leading with the chest, to reach the hands to the floor. Based on your flexibility, you can stay on finger tips or flatten palms to floor. Again, keep your head in line with spine, abdominal muscles engaged, back flat, sit bones on the chair, and feet flat and torso width apart. See photo marked intermediate.


Use the beginner set up as described above, continuing to the intermediate position. If the intermediate position can be performed without difficulty, then you can progress to the advanced stretch. Reach your hands back along the inside of your legs towards the chair’s front legs. When reaching, continue to keep your head in line with spine, abdominal muscles engaged, back flat, sit bones on the chair, and feet flat and torso width apart. Do not round your upper back as shown in the photo marked “too much collapse,” as this can increase compression in the low back. Come out of the stretch if this is happening.

Stay in the beginner, intermediate, or advanced position for one full minute or longer if desired. To safely come out of the stretch, place hands back to floor (if performing the advanced stretch), then knees, while leading with the chest and engaging the abdominal muscles to keep your back flat.

Questions? Email me at

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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  1. Cheetah

    Discovered this while looking for other ways to keep the lumbar strong and stretched and I can say as a man of 69 years who is a pretty regular cyclist and in generally very good health, this stretch is awesome! it’s almost like a chiropractic exam adjustment! Thank you – just so happens I purchased a folding chair recently at a thrift shop for a dollar!

  2. Will Saunders

    Great exercises. They are perfect for those who have a desk job and sit for most of the day.

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