While visiting New York City from Los Angeles for a week (so, adjusting to a three-hour time difference), I got out of bed my first morning and realized that my body needed something more than its usual caffeine buzz to get over the blahs of being slightly dehydrated and sleep deprived. Not like, go for a run recharged–too stressful. But rather like I wanted to inhabit my body and feel the space between my vertebra creak and click and lengthen.
I immediately thought of the world’s greatest stretch, because, duh. It’s earned its name for opening up multiple body parts at once and feeling so dang good in the process. “The world’s greatest stretch is essentially a few key stretches in one,” says Azul Corajoria, a certified health coach and personal trainer. “Most enjoy it because it adds a fun flow component to stretching.” (For the unfamiliar, this dynamic movement involves twisting and opening up your chest, shoulders, spine, and hips from a low lunge position.)
What makes the world’s greatest stretch so, well, great
The benefits of stretching this way are clear to Corajoria. “Doing a stretch like this every day would improve flexibility and mobility,” she says, “and since you’re active the entire time, you’ll increase blood flow throughout the body, which will keep you from feeling creaky and stiff.”
For this reason, a lot of trainers incorporate the world’s greatest stretch into their dynamic warm-ups, especially prior to doing full-body workouts, whether that’s strength training or running. But Corajoria says it’s also an excellent thing to do while traveling, especially after a flight. “For a lot of people, air travel reduces blood circulation,” she says. Blood circulation is a crucial biological function “because it helps get oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.” Stretching in general promotes circulation, and the world’s greatest stretch in particular is “active by nature,” Corajoria says, which makes it even better for boosting blood flow.
How to do the world’s greatest stretch
So on the floor of my hotel room, I walk out into a plank and then step my left foot forward outside of my left hand coming into a low lunge. From there, I keep my right palm planted on the floor while I reach my left fingertips toward the sky, allowing my core to rotate toward my front thigh before placing my left hand back on the floor inside my left foot.
After repeating this reach and stretch five times on one side, and then the other, I feel energy bubbling up inside of me. So much so that I ended up doing this stretch series every day of my week-long trip, and it consistently made me feel grounded, alert, and ready to make the most of every day.
If you have more time, try doing this 20-minute routine that includes, you guessed it: the world’s greatest stretch: