When it comes to time-saving stretches, you can do no better than the world's greatest stretch. Yes, that's really what it's called. It's that good.
After all, no matter how much we know we need to stretch, who here is actually taking time out of their day to stretch their hips, then their legs, then their back, then their necks.... Anyone?
Fortunately, by combining an inchworm, plank, lunge and chest and hip stretch in one, this single move lives up to its name — relieving tension through your entire body all at once. All you need is 60 seconds.
How to Do the World's Greatest Stretch
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and fold over to plant your hands on the ground.
- Slowly walk your hands forward while keeping your legs as straight as possible until you are in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- From a high plank position, step your right foot to the outside of your right hand so you’re in a low lunge.
- Twist to your right side, reaching your right arm toward the ceiling and opening your chest.
- Bring your right elbow to the inside of your right foot, then reach your right arm toward the ceiling again.
- Return to a high plank position, then switch sides.
Hold the stretch for 15 seconds on each side and repeat for 2 rounds.
4 Benefits of the World's Greatest Stretch
1. It Hits Everything
"The world's greatest stretch targets your hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, shoulders, pectorals, the upper and lower back and even the obliques," says Nate Feliciano, owner and head of training Studio 16, a private personal training studio in New York City.
Seriously, if you've got a tight muscle in your body, the world's greatest stretch will find it and relieve it.
2. It Combats Sitting
"In my experience, people who sit at a desk for work are tight in areas that can actually be targeted by the world's greatest stretch," Feliciano says.
Try doing it throughout the day or at the end of the work day to loosen up your body and relieve discomfort from hours spent sitting.
3. It Strengthens From Head to Toe
Sure, building strength isn't the main point of this stretch, but it's a happy byproduct of it.
"You're also activating various areas by holding yourself in a plank position as you go," explains Jeff Brannigan, co-founder and program director at Stretch*d, a stretch and recovery studio in New York.
Expect to feel your legs, hips, core and shoulders engaged and working.
4. It Makes a Great Warm-Up Exercise
Put together these stretching and strengthening benefits, and you've got a perfect dynamic warm-up exercise to get things moving before a big workout, Brannigan says.
"You need the muscles to operate properly, and they will be unable to do so if you don't help prepare them for the workout," he says. "Those doing workouts that involve a lot of compound movements (such as deadlifts and push-ups) will benefit the most from the world's greatest stretch because of its ability to target many muscles."
When using this move in your workout warm-ups, focus on keeping the static parts of the stretch brief (like 10 seconds or less) and moving pretty consistently.