10 Transformative Stretches To Try For Increased Flexibility, From Trainers
We all know that stretching is something we should be doing after working out, but more often than not this essential step falls by the wayside, particularly in a time crunch. But just because you don't reap the gratifying benefits of stretching immediately (unlike a sweaty workout) doesn't mean it should be neglected.
Not only can stretching regularly help you feel better in the day-to-day, but building this habit into your routine may improve your range of motion1. A new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health even revealed that stretching for 30 minutes each day may help to support healthy blood pressure in some people.
Whether you're struggling with back stiffness, tight hips, or are simply looking to improve upon your flexibility, we rounded up the 10 best stretches from our favorite trainers at mbg to release tension and promote a stronger and healthier body. Add these to the end of your next workout for a personalized stretching routine, and you'll be feeling loose and limber in no time:
World's Greatest Stretch
Demonstrated by Mindy Lai
- From a high plank position, step your right foot to the side of your right hand.
- Press your left hand into the ground, and bring your right hand overhead. Twist your body to the right side, and bring your gaze to the lifted fingertips.
- Reverse the movement, and repeat on the opposite side.
- Continue for 30 seconds.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Demonstrated by Danielle Gray
- Start in a kneeling position.
- Press your right heel into the floor, bringing the leg to a 90-degree angle. Tuck the toes of your left foot under, with the left leg also forming a 90-degree angle.
- Tuck your pelvis slightly forward and engage the core.
- Squeeze your rear glutes, and imagine you're dragging the front heel and back knee closer together.
- Reach the left arm up as high as you can, and lean slightly toward the right.
- Maintain engagement. Hold for 1 minute.
- Repeat on the other side.
Demonstrated by Phyllicia Bonanno
- Start by standing in mountain pose, with your hands either at heart center or on your hips. Inhale.
- On your exhale, begin to hinge forward from the hips with a straight spine, as if you could lengthen your chest outward. If you wish, you can bend the knees, allowing your stomach to come to the top of your thighs.
- When you've gone as far down as you can go, allow the head to hang heavy, grabbing opposite elbows with opposite hands. Thighs are turned slightly inward.
- Begin to shift the weight into the heels, as you tilt the hips upward and straighten out your legs (without locking the knees). Keep exercising the motion of sending your hips upward, stretching the hamstrings, and letting the head hang.
- If your legs are straight without having to round your spine too much, you can reach for the floor with your hands, pressing into the mat with fingertips or palms. For a deeper stretch, wrap the arms around the backs of your ankles, palms facing in.
- Engage the fronts of the thighs to allow your hamstrings to release, and start shifting your weight into the balls of your feet.
- Hold for up to 1 minute. As you inhale, work to lengthen the torso, lifting it slightly, and as you exhale, release, and you'll be able to stretch even deeper.
- To come out, inhale and rise up with straight legs and a flat back. Alternatively, you can ragdoll up, one vertebra at a time, with the chin coming up last.
Demonstrated by Tara Stiles
- Reaching up with one hand toward the ceiling, lengthen your hip and fingertips as far from each other as possible.
- Try not to rotate or twist your spine.
- You can keep your focus straight forward or look up toward your raised arm.
Demonstrated by Lai
- Start standing with your legs apart, in a wide squat position. Place your hands on your thighs.
- Bend your knees slightly, then twist your body to one side, pressing your hands into your thighs to enhance the stretch. Switch and repeat on the opposite side.
- Slowly move back and forth for 30 seconds.
Demonstrated by Shayna Taylor
- Starting on your knees, place your hands on the floor in front of you, under your shoulders, with your fingertips facing your knees; breathe, and hold for 30 seconds.
- Now flip your hands so the tops of your hands are on the floor, with fingertips facing forward. Breathe, and hold for 30 seconds.
- Now flip your hands so that the tops of your hands are on the floor and your fingertips are facing you; breathe, and hold for 30 seconds.
Demonstrated by Emily Chen
- Kneeling down, brace your core and interlock your fingers behind your head.
- First, stretch your neck to face the floor and hold for 10 seconds.
- Release your hands and pull your head to the right side, resting your ear near your shoulder.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then release and move your head to the other side.
- Replace your hands behind your head and stretch backward, looking to face the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds.
Side-Lying Psoas Stretch
Demonstrated by Helen Phelan
- Lie on your side, with the bottom leg bent. Extend your bottom arm as a pillow, or prop yourself up on your forearm, as you would in a side plank.
- Bend the top leg and reach for your top foot with your top arm. Draw the heel in toward your glutes, slightly tucking the pelvis to prevent hyperextension of the spine and keeping the knees close together.
- Flex the foot to intensify. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths, and repeat on the second leg, again, checking in with any differences from side to side.
Demonstrated by Bonanno
- From a downward dog position, reach your right foot up to the sky.
- Bend your knee and bring it in line with your right arm. Bring your right foot to the left side of your body, and allow your shin to rest on the ground.
- Bring your back leg down to the mat, and lift your chest, keeping your hips in one line.
- Hold for a breath, then slowly lower your torso to the ground so it folds over your right leg. Here, you have the option to bring your forehead to the mat.
- Hold for as many breaths as you'd like, then peel your body back up. Come back into downward dog, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Hold for as many breaths as you'd like, and make your way back to downward dog again, or continue on to a different pose.
Demonstrated by Juanina Kocher
- From reverse warrior, pivot your body at your torso until it's facing forward.
- Keep your hips square and bend your back leg to gently lower your knee onto the ground.
- Keep your shoulders aligned over your hips as you sweep your arms up to the sky.
- Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.