SOS Stretches are designed to be done in the moment—when you need them most. These super quick routines will relieve tension, tightness and ease sore muscles from whatever activity you’re taking part in. In today’s intermission at the theater routine, you’ll be:

  • Stretching your: Neck, hip flexors, back, hamstrings, and calves.
  • You can do this: At the theater wearing whatever clothes you have on—even if it’s a form-fitting outfit and high heels. These stretches are discreet and don’t require big movements, making them easy to do while you’re waiting in line for the bathroom or socializing in the lobby. Plus, some can be done right in your chair.

If you’ve ever felt stiff and achy after a night out at the theater (or any time you’ve been sitting still in a cramped space), well, it only makes sense. Not only are you sitting for a good chunk of the time, but the chairs are often small, and typically you’re shoulder to shoulder with the people next to you. As a result, you’ll probably keep your elbows in your lap, clam up, and really fold your body into itself, physical therapist Brando Lakes, DPT, cofounder of Kinesadelic in NYC, tells SELF.

Additionally, during tense parts of the show, your head will likely come forward to capture every word, and your shoulders may raise up toward your ears, says Lakes. And if the theater is chilly—which so many are—your shoulders may also hunch up if you’re cold, he adds. Depending on the length of the show, you may stay locked in these positions for hours at a time and thus experience aches, pains, and stiffness in your body.

Fortunately, with a little bit of stretching, you can counteract that tightness and “reestablish some amount of balance in the body,” says Lakes. With that in mind, Lakes developed the following four-move routine that you can do during a show’s intermission. These gentle stretches will lengthen key muscles that often get tight in a theater scenario—think hips, legs, neck, and back—so you can go about your evening feeling a little less stiff and achy.


  • Do the following stretches for the amount of time designated below. Feel free to do them in any order and mix and match however feels best to you.
  • The sequence as-is will take about three to four minutes, but feel free to repeat it multiple times if you’d like. Just be sure to listen to your body and back off if the moves feel too intense. “As long as you feel a stretch, you’re good,” says Lakes.