There’s a wildly popular warm-up movement called “the world’s greatest stretch”, and it actually lives up to its name as one of the — if not the — best stretches you could do, especially right before a workout. Trainers say the bendy move is packed with benefits that get your body ready to run, jump, lift, or whatever else you’ve got planned for the gym.
To break it down, the world’s greatest stretch is a dynamic stretching exercise that combines a lunge with a torso twist to target several muscle groups at once, including the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, spine, and chest, says personal trainer Michael Hamlin, NSCA, CSCS. Many other stretches zero in on one specific muscle, but this move truly targets everything. “There are so many different movements in this warm-up exercise that it looks and feels like a blend of athletics and yoga,” he tells Bustle.
While you can do the stretch whenever you want to unwind tight muscles, it’s especially great right before a workout because of the way it prepares your body to move, says Hamlin. The flowing motion activates key muscles and gets your blood pumping, he says, which is why it can help prevent injuries, too.
“Often the first time [someone] does this exercise, they will mention to me how everything feels ‘loose,’” says Hamlin, who dubs the it an “essential part of any dynamic warm-up routine.” Keep reading for details on how to do the world’s greatest stretch, plus all of its benefits.
How To Do The World’s Greatest Stretch
Here’s how to do the world’s greatest stretch with good form:
– Begin standing, then bend down and walk your hands straight out into a high plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
– Step your left foot forward and place it outside of your left hand.
– Hover your right knee above the floor.
– Keeping your right hand on the floor, twist your torso and reach your left arm up toward the ceiling. Look up and breathe.
– Return your left hand to the ground.
– Walk your hands back towards your feet and stand up.
– Roll down and walk your hands back into a high plank.
– Keeping your left hand down, twist your torso and reach your right arm up toward the ceiling. Look up and breathe.
– Repeat and keep alternating sides for 30 seconds to a minute before a workout.
– To modify the stretch, you can plant the knee of your back leg onto the mat as you twist.
Benefits Of The World’s Greatest Stretch
The world’s greatest stretch moves your body through its full range of motion, which means it effectively hits every muscle group so that you feel ready to tackle a tough workout.
Gliding forward into a lunge warms your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quads while the torso twist and arm reach hit your core, mid-back, shoulders, chest, and arms, says Lalitha McSorley, PT, a personal trainer and physical therapist. “It helps to activate the muscles to prepare them for the workout ahead,” she tells Bustle.
If you’re running short on time or aren’t sure which stretches to do, the world’s greatest stretch is always a good choice. It’s quick, it’s easy, and Hamlin says you might even feel more mobile and powerful than usual as you exercise, thanks to the way it effectively warms you up.
Beyond being a pre-workout move, this full-body stretch also improves your flexibility, mobility, and posture, McSorley says, since it lubes up your joints and lengthens tight muscles in one go. And because it requires you to balance while you twist, Hamlin notes it’s a nifty way to boost your stability, too. In other words: It’s called the world’s greatest stretch for a reason.
Afonso, J. (2021). Time to Move From Mandatory Stretching? We Need to Differentiate “Can I?” From “Do I Have To?”. Front Physiol. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.714166.
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Michael Hamlin, NSCA, CSCS, personal trainer
Lalitha McSorley, PT, personal trainer, physical therapist
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