Is Stretching Important Before Working Out? This One Movement Is All You Need To Do
There are a lot of stretches out there. And while stretching does feel great, I'm the first to admit that if I need to get a quick jog in, or I'm late for a boxing class, stretches are the first thing to fly out the window. With that being said, I do know stretching is important before a workout, but narrowing down the best one to do can be a little complicated, not to mention it can be time-consuming to fit in before exercising. But there's one stretch out there that actually might make things a whole lot easier, and it's quite literally called "the world's greatest stretch," or WGS.
If you want to get technical about it — which one must when it comes to matters of stretching techniques — WGS is actually a series of stretches held anywhere from five to 20 seconds. As Sasha Cyrelson, PT, DPT, clinical director at Professional Physical Therapy, told Refinery29, this particular stretch "helps increase your available range of motion, allowing you to train your muscles through the full range, and decreases the overall risk of injury."
So, what exactly does "the world's greatest stretch" entail? And how do you do the dang thing?
Rest assured, it's pretty simple. First, you do a forward lunge, with your right foot flat on the ground, and your left leg reaching back, with the toes of your left foot on the ground. Bring both of your arms to the inside of your right foot, and hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds. Don't forget to breathe!
Now, keeping your right hand on the ground next to the inside of the right foot, extend your left arm up. The guy in the video above has you bring your left arm down to reach through your bent leg, then back up a few times. Then switch the arm you raise to the other side, and repeat the same movements.
When you're finished stretching each side, place your hands on either side of your front foot, and roll back to straighten the front leg while raising the toes of your front foot off the ground. Come down onto your back knee while you do this, then hold here for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat the sequence on the other side. Voilà! You're all stretched out now.
But what is it about these movements that makes it "the world's greatest stretch?" Well, as Cyrelson told Refinery29, it targets most of the major muscle groups.
The WGS even gets those areas that are often forgotten about when you're just stretching on your own, like your hip flexors and your hamstrings, for example.
Kori Malyszek, CSCS, USAW, a master instructor and education coordinator for Equinox, wrote in the gym's blog Furthermore from Equinox, that the stretch is "legendary," and that it's a dynamic stretch (meaning it moves) with static components (meaning there are moments it stays put), which effectively prepares your body for your workout.
Plus, Malyszek explained, this stretch targets a lot of the muscles that get particularly cramped up while you're hanging at the computer all day. Malyszek even said you can hold each position for only a few seconds at a time if you want, rather than as long as 20 seconds, especially on days when you're not planning to work out, but just need a little bit of movement. Translation: There are no excuses about not having the time, y'all! Everyone has time for a quick few seconds of stretching at some point during the day.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I just tried the WGS myself, and it does feel great — like, really, really great.
If you aren't convinced about incorporating this bad boy into your routine yet, it's always worth considering just how good stretching really is for your body. According to Prevention, it helps prevent injuries, improves your balance, and again, it just feels pretty freakin' awesome.