How many of you out there skip your warm-up? Now that everyone in North America has raised their hands, let’s talk turkey: This one, single stretch hits almost every muscle in your body when done correctly and takes less than five minutes to execute. Not sold yet? It also combines dynamic and static elements, challenging your central nervous system while increasing your range of motion and lengthening and strengthening your muscles simultaneously.
Do the positions in this four-part stretch in order, holding each for three to five seconds if using as a dynamic warm-up or five to 10 seconds for cool-down/mobility work. Move smoothly between positions, and perform the entire stretch three to five times per side. Remember to hit both sides of your body equally and breathe deeply throughout each position. Each time you repeat the sequence, try to stretch a little farther.
Part 1: Lunge
For hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors, glutes, calves.
Step your right leg forward and bend your right knee deeply while keeping your rear leg straight by actively pushing your heel back, squeezing your glutes and contracting your quad. Keep your right knee over your toes as you place your hands on the floor inside your right foot, aligning them with your instep, and square your hips.
Part 2: Elbow to Instep
For hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves.
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 big toe.
Part 3: Internal/External Rotation and Reach
For thoracic spine, shoulders, chest, adductors, lower back, hamstrings, obliques, biceps.
Still in your lunge, keep your right hand on the floor as you rotate your shoulders and torso to the left side, reaching your left fingertips for the ceiling and looking up at your left hand. 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 hand for the ceiling and looking up toward your hand.
Part 4: Hamstring Stretch
For hamstrings, back, calves.
Finally, place your hands 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 toes.