If you take a quick poll of your average jane or joe that gets their sweat on at your local gym, and you were to ask them if they’ve heard of the World’s Greatest Stretch as a warm up before they got their main workout in, chances are you’ll hear crickets.
Their warm up would most likely go a little something like this:
– Bend over, touch toes.
– arm circles
– arm crossover/unders
– jumping jacks
If long-term, pain free joint/muscle health is your goal, then it is ESSENTIAL to pick a warm up that prepare your nervous system and muscles that you are about to train.
So, without further ado, I want to go over one of my favorite stretches of all time… and it just so happens to be called “The World’s Greatest Stretch”.
Take a peak:
Now, a couple things –
It’s a multi-faceted mobility exercise, and can be overwhelming if you have not tried before… bend this way, twist this way, etc… So I want to break it down in a way that may make it easier for you:
1) Initial Step Forward with elbow drive:
– make sure you take a big enough step so the shin of the leg that is lunging forward is perpendicular with the ground. Many times individuals will not step out far enough, due to tight hamstrings/gluteal muscles, so make sure you get into the right initial position so we are getting the stretch where we need it. It may be necessary to use a yoga block or some sort of elevated surface for the supporting hand. Elbow drive will be on the inside of the lunging leg.
2) T-Spine Rotation toward Lunging leg:
– In this part, I’ve seen it taught in several ways. My personal preference is to coach the individual to try and touch their right chest to the left leg (if the left leg is the leg that is lunged forward), while reaching the left arm up to the sky.
3) T-Spine Rotation away from Lunging leg:
– Same idea, except now we rotate the opposite way. Here, we think about “opening up” the chest away from the lunging leg, firmly planting the left arm into the ground, while the right arm reaches high in the air.
4) Hamstring Rock Out
– Now, we’ve got our hands on the inside of the leg that is forward, and proceed to lengthen out the forward leg via knee extension and driving the same side hip high in the air (I tried to exaggerate this part of the stretch during the side view to emphasis this point).
5) Split Stance Lunge with Overhead Reach
– Finally, we finish off the World’s Greatest Stretch with a split stance lunge with overhead reach. The important components here are to emphasize keeping the back leg straight, while creating length in the spine…this allows for a greater stretch of the anterior hip.
So, there’s your breakdown of the World’s Greatest Stretch, one of my favorite mobility drills of all time. Basic, to the point, but very effective.
Give it a try and let me here your thoughts in the comments below!