Why the world's greatest stretch lives up to its name

Try this dynamic stretch before every workout to get more results and lessen your risk of injury. It’s sort of legendary.

Beloved by trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, elite athletes and fitness fanatics alike, the world’s greatest stretch – also known as ‘spiderman with thoracic rotation’ – targets everything from your ankles and hamstrings to your hips, spine, shoulders and glutes.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, where have you been? Your tightly coiled muscles must be crying out for attention. Combining thoracic rotation with hip mobility, not to mention the fact that this exercise requires you to move through the plank position, the world’s greatest stretch is essential if you sit down a lot (ahem, working from home in lockdown).

“The world’s greatest stretch is a fabulous pre-workout stretch combining dynamic stretching and mobility,” says personal trainer and pre-and-post natal specialist Nicole Chapman.

“By incorporating this into your warm-up routine you will simultaneously target the major muscle groups that can be easily overlooked – hip flexors, thoracic spine, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and shoulders whilst working on internal and external rotation.”

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How to do the world’s greatest stretch:

1. Step forward with your right leg into a lunge, foot flat on the floor, knee bent 90 degrees

2. Place both your hands on the floor inside your right leg and allow yourself to 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.

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

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

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 on your left side

What makes this the world’s ‘greatest’ stretch?

Apart from the fact that it’s my personal favourite stretch, it lives up to its name of being the ‘greatest’ for two reasons. The first, because it targets every major muscle in the body. And the second, it takes less than five minutes to complete.

“It’s all-encompassing,” says Chapman. And since it’s a dynamic stretch with static elements, it can be used as part of your dynamic warm-up or at the end of a session.

“It doesn’t need to be exclusive to your warm-up, it can be incredibly beneficial to anyone who has been sitting at their desk all day, to loosen the hips and regain some mobility,” she says.

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