The World's Second Greatest Stretch
Target all of your sitting muscles at once with this smart move.
The World’s Greatest Stretch is given that superlative because it specifically focuses on the muscles that we tend to overuse most while sitting at a desk all day. However, New York City-based master trainer and Tier 4 coach Josh Stolz thinks the following move, what he calls the World’s Second Greatest Stretch, comes in a close second. “It reaches muscles, such as the glutes, piriformis and external rotators of the hips, that you simply don’t get in the original stretch,” says Stolz. “This move, which is kind of like a walking figure four stretch, also helps target your lats, better your balance, improve core strength and potentially alleviate back pain.”
Perform this stretch as a dynamic warm-up before your regular cardio and/or strength sessions. Or you can perform it as a cool-down, but rather than walking through the movement, make it static and hold the final position (with ankle over knee) for a minimum of 30 seconds. If you want to combine it with the World’s Greatest Stretch, knock yourself out: Continue alternating between the two, switching legs with every rep. “The key is that you want to feel it in your hips in oppose to your back,” says Stolz.
The World’s Second Greatest Stretch
Follow these step-by-step instructions from Stolz:
(1) Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.
(2) Keep your back tall, shoulders down and chest open as you push butt behind you and bend knees slightly, going into a mini squat. Lift left foot a few inches off floor (as shown).
(3) Hinge forward from hips to grab left knee with left hand and ankle with right hand. Slowly stand back up, bringing knee up with you, pulling it toward midline of chest, until your spine is fully extended (as shown).
(4) Then do another mini squat, pushing hips behind you, and place left ankle over right knee, with left knee out to side (as shown).
(5) Extend arms at shoulder level in front of you and go deeper into your squat, pushing hips back, hinging forward from hips and reaching arms diagonally toward floor (as shown). Stand up, lunge forward with left leg, and then repeat stretch on the right. Continue alternating sides for 12 to 16 reps total (6 to 8 each leg).
- To get more of a lat stretch: Reach arms away from the hip you’re stretching (i.e., if right ankle is over left knee, reach arms to left and push hips to right).
- To make it easier: Use a wall for balance and/or do not go quite as deep into each squat.
- To make it more difficult: Slowly work your way into a deeper squat. Or when you bring knee into chest, go up onto your tiptoes, which will target your calves and better activate your core and other stabilizing muscles.