Fitness

The World's Greatest Stretch: Why Everyone Should Do It, Every Day

Stretching is a wonderful act of fitness and self-care, but are you aware of the world’s greatest stretch? Let’s look if it stands up to its name.

By Ameya Arora
13 April 2022

One component of fitness that most of us skip or neglect is stretching. But there are some benefits attached to it that might just make you want to add it to your routine. You must have noticed when you wake up from sleep or get up after sitting for a long period of time, you just can’t help but stretch. Your arms instinctively go up after a prolonged time of inactivity. A stretch feels so good because it activates your muscles, drains lactic acid buildup, and boosts blood circulation.

 

There are legit physical and mental health benefits of stretching, whether you stretch pre-workout, post-workout, upon waking up, or after sitting for a long time. But before we dig into the benefits, let’s talk about the world’s greatest stretch.

 

The world’s greatest stretch is a fabulous pre-workout stretch that combines flexibility and mobility. It allows you to challenge your balance, loosen your hips, and engage your glutes. A fun fact: did you know that your glute muscles can actually “turn off”, or stop contracting effectively, from sitting for too long too often! This stretch is perfect to not only activate your glutes but also stretch your calves, hamstrings, back, and shoulders. Thus, it targets everything from your ankles to your shoulders.

 

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This stretch is super essential if you sit down a lot. So if you think that you spend a lot of time sitting on your desk, or on your bed, or commuting to school or office, consider stretching regularly. Studies suggest that prolonged sitting may make you prone to weight gain, heart diseases, sluggish metabolism, weak muscles, and poor circulation. Stretching becomes a quick fix for your body at the end of the day as it helps to release any built-up tension, activate your muscles, and boosts your blood circulation. Hence if you have a sedentary lifestyle, stretching for 5 minutes everyday can be incredibly useful in order to counteract the stress placed on the body in the seated position.

 

Wouldn’t it make it even more incredible if I say that it takes less than 5 minutes to complete? Let’s look at the steps to perform this stretch.

1. Step forward with your right leg making a lunge, ensure that the knee is bent 90 degrees and the foot is flat on the floor.

 

2. Place both of your hands on the floor inside your right leg and feel a slight stretch in the hips.

(Targets: Hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lateral calf)

 

3. Lift your right hand off the floor, then, bending your right elbow, bring your elbow towards your right foot.

 

4. Reach as far as you can without rounding back.

(Targets: Deeper into hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lateral calf)

 

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5. Staying in a lunge position, rotate your upper body to the right, pressing through your left palm and lifting your right arm straight towards the ceiling.

 

6. Look up at the arm above you, ensuring your back is straight.

(Targets: Deepens hamstring and glutes; shoulders, pecs, upper and lower back, internal and external rotators of hips and obliques)

 

7. Twist again through the spine to return your right arm (with bent elbow) to the ground in front of you.

 

8. Step back into the plank position, and repeat the steps with your left side.

 

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Let’s finally look at some benefits of performing this stretch

1. It improves your flexibility

When you stretch, your range of motion of a joint, or group of joints increases significantly. This happens both temporarily and in the long-run.

 

2. It increases your range of muscle movement

The more range of motion you have, the more muscle you’ll be able to activate while performing workout exercises. Hence, you see an overall enhancement in your performance.

 

3. It totally primes you for your workout

When you perform the stretch before working out, you are preparing your body to work efficiently in order to both produce and absorb high forces. Hence, stretching before exercising activates your mind-body connection because you give a chance to your body to think in the direction of effectively exercising.

 

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4. It calms your body after a workout

Stretching is a slow and peaceful movement. So once you finish your workout, it relaxes you by lowering your muscle tension, normalising heart rate, and blood flow, and calms down your breath.

 

5. It reduces your risk of injury

Stretching to warm up before exercising can activate your joints and muscles, and temporarily increases your range of motion. So when you begin your workout, your body is pumped up and your risk of injury is reduced as you ease your body into movement.

 

6. It can help correct body imbalances

Stretching can be a great way to identify imbalances in flexibility or areas of extra tightness in your body, which then gives you a chance to correct those problem areas before they lead to injury. For example, suppose you are raising up your arms and you begin to feel pain in your left arm quite before the right arm. This would alert you that your left arm is less flexible and mobile.

 

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7. It acts as a means of self-care

When you take some time out of a hectic schedule to stretch for your body, you are showing care and concern towards it, which has a whole lot of benefits.

 

8. It allows you to perform day-to-day tasks/movements more easily and effectively

There are a variety of everyday tasks which require you to be flexible, such as bending down to carry groceries. Stretching every day can gradually make you feel more comfortable in performing these tasks which require lifting, bending, and leaning.

 

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