These Full-Body Stretches Will Help You Find Your Flexibility
True story: flexibility is earned, not given—and it’s crucial that you continuously work to maintain it. Enter stretching. It keeps you limber and “increases the overall range of motion in your joints,” explains Karen Joubert, PT, owner of Joubert Physical Therapy in Beverly Hills, who works with celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Cara Delevingne, and Cher. “It, along with breathing, can also be an important tool in stress management,” Joubert says.
For optimal results, you should be doing dynamic stretching (going from movement into a stretch) prior to workouts, and static stretching (simply holding a position) post-sweat. We trust you do the latter, but folks often forget the dynamic kind. Not anymore. “This routine allows you to utilize movement to create space within the body,” says Alicia Archer (above), a flexibility specialist and group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City who designed and demos the following dynamic stretches. “It also gets tissues to mobilize and recruits more muscles while encouraging your body to adjust and recover,” Archer says. Remember: Stretching is not supposed to hurt. So if something feels painful, back off, Joubert adds. Now let’s loosen up!
Open Lunge Hip Shift
From kneeling, step right foot forward. Place left hand down and right hand on right thigh. Press hips forward, lengthening left leg behind you (A). Shift hips back, coming to left knee as you place hands down and straighten right leg (B). Continue moving back and forth.
Benefit: This helps release the psoas, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Side to side
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointing out slightly. Hinge at hips, lower chest, and place fingertips on ground (A). Place right hand on inner right thigh. Bend right knee, shifting weight to right leg, using right hand to pulse right knee back (B). Repeat on opposite side (C).
Benefit: This increases hip mobility by stretching the inner thighs and groin.
Start with feet wider than hip-width apart, a slight bend in knees and fingertips on ground (A). Shift weight back, lowering into a quarter squat and stretching chest down and back (B). Return to “A” and repeat.
Benefit: This stretches the hips and inner thighs while also working on ankle mobility and spinal flexion.
Standing arch + curl + arms circles
Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides; palms forward (A). Tuck tailbone, pull abs in, and reach arms back (B). Circle arms up to shoulders as you arch back (C). Continue lifting arms while maintaining arch (D). As arms move forward, drop head and pull hips back, coming into a C-curve (E). Return to start and repeat.
Benefit: This targets shoulders, chest, back, and abs.
Low squat shifts
With feet wider than hip-width apart, bend knees and lower into a squat with hands on floor (A). Shift weight into right hip, lifting right heel (B). Shift weight to left hip, lowering right foot and lifting left heel (C). Continue alternating back and forth.
Benefit: This increases hip and ankle mobility while stretching inner thighs.