The World’s Greatest Stretch
Improve blood flow, increase range of motion and relieve stress in less than five minutes with this five-part stretch for women.
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How many of you out there skip your warm-up? Now that everyone in North America has raised their hands, let’s talk time-turkey: This stretch hits almost every muscle in your body and takes less than five minutes to execute. It also combines dynamic and static elements, challenging your central nervous system, increasing your range of motion, and lengthening and strengthening your muscles simultaneously.
Do these five positions in order, holding each for three to five seconds when using as a warm-up or for five to 10 seconds when using as a cool-down or for mobility training. Move smoothly between positions, and perform the entire sequence three to five times per side. Breathe deeply throughout, and each time you repeat the sequence, try to stretch a little farther.
For hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors, glutes, calves, lower back
Step your right leg forward and bend your right knee deeply, keeping your knee over your toes. Place both hands on the floor inside your right foot, aligning them with your instep, and square your hips. Keep your rear leg straight by actively pushing back through your heel, squeezing your glutes and contracting your quads.
Elbow to Instep
For hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, back
Holding your lunge position and keeping your left hand in place, bend your right elbow 90 degrees so your forearm is parallel with the floor and place it against the inside of your right leg. Slowly fold forward with a flat back and slide your elbow down your leg as far as you can without rounding your back. Your goal is to get your entire forearm on the floor with your elbow on the inside of your arch (shown).
Internal/External Rotation and Reach
For thoracic spine, shoulders, chest, adductors, lower back, hamstrings, obliques, biceps
Place your right hand back on the floor inside your right foot and open your chest and shoulders to the left, reaching your left fingertips for the ceiling and looking up at your left hand (shown). Return both hands to the center, re-square your hips, then keep your left hand on the floor as you turn to the right, reaching your right fingertips for the ceiling and looking up toward your hand.
For quads, hip flexors, adductors, chest, shoulders
Return to the center, then place your left knee on the floor and tuck your pelvis underneath as you reach your arms overhead, elbows by your ears. Don’t overarch your back; rather elongate by actively reaching upward.
For hamstrings, back, calves
Lower your arms and place your fingertips on the floor on either side of your right foot, then lift your glutes toward the ceiling as you straighten your right leg. Square your hips and keep your back as flat as possible as you lift your right toes and press back into your left heel.