Without too much of a preamble, this one here is the best stretch I have discovered so far:

The best stretch.
The best stretch. The picture I stole shamelessly from Upright Posture Fitness.

I think the basic execution is quite clear from the picture alone. Nevertheless, here’s a written description:

  1. Stand about 1 meter or so away from a wall.
  2. Extend your arms so that your palms rest on the wall, somewhere above your face height.
  3. While keeping your back and arms straight, lean forwards (and push your ass back) until your arms and back form a straight line.
  4. Hold and enjoy.

Simple as that. Below are some key points to focus on, along with why I like this particular stretch.

It’s painless

Now listen. Stretching should pretty much always be pain-free. If you are anything like me, you like to push them to the point that they aren’t, and likely beyond. Thinking that they are more effective or stuff.

Not the case with this stretch. Due to the execution of the movement, it’s hard to exert the kind of forces required to make any muscle hurt. The leverages simply aren’t there.

It stretches your lats

Thanks to both office work and gym, my lats (and probably yours too) tend to get shortened and tight. This stretch brings them to the fully extended position in a gentle and natural fashion. That is enough to stretch them without triggering any protective tightening like might happen with more violent stretching.

It stretches your pecs too

Like your lats, your pec muscles are probably tight, too. This exercise stretches them both, especially the minor one that is otherwise hard to target.

It activates your upper back

Thanks to the aforementioned office work, your shoulders tend to become slumped forward. This happens both due to tightness in lats and pecs, and inactivity of the mid- and lower traps, as well as the serratus anterior.

This stretch can wake up those sleepyheads. However, this probably requires some conscious effort on your part.

Simply focus on pulling your shoulder blades back and down.

It helps to correct your upper back posture

In addition to having slumped shoulders, you probably have a posture like Quasimodo. In other words, a hunched upper back, with your head thrust forwards.

When stretching, focus on extending your upper back. While you’re at it, also pack your neck. In other words, pull your head back a little, as if trying to make a double chin.

Getting this right may require some practise. Once you do, you should feel a really nice squeeze in your mid-back, on and slightly below your nipple line. And I mean really nice – you definitely know something’s happening.

It helps to stretch your hamstrings

This may not be the case for you. But, I have such stiff hips and hamstrings that this stretch brings them close to the edge of their range of motion. By focusing on keeping a normal curvature on my lower back, I can feel a nice stretch on my hamstrings.

Unlike many other hamstring stretches, this does not give me any back pain. Which is a huge plus, since painful stretches only tend to lead to even more stiffening shortly afterwards.

You can do it anywhere

Well, you do need a wall but that’s it.

Plus, it let’s your colleagues and friends and random passers-by admire your well-structured backside. That’s gotta be a huge plus, right?


That was it. The best stretch I have been able to find so far.

Hope you liked it.

-Antti


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The Best Stretch – Why and How to Do It

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