My Three Most Critical Stretches


Regularly performing full-body heavy compound barbell lifts keeps me pretty flexible, but there are three stretches that I perform religiously because they’re so critical to my posture and overall health.

Thoracic extension

This one is awesome. It opens up my entire anterior from my lower abs to my jaw. It simultaneously expands all abdominal muscles, the rib cage, stretches the pectorals and anterior deltoids, and massages the thoracic (upper section) spine. It’s fantastic for posture and I get a nice crack out of a couple vertebrae using it, which is something I love. I wish I could crack every single joint in my body.

The exercise is performed with a foam roller (I prefer high density). The goal is to have both the butt and back of the head on the ground at the same time while breathing slowly and deeply.

The king of all upper body mobility exercises.

The king of all upper body mobility exercises.

Hip stretch with external rotation

Hip flexor tightness is a problem that plagues the majority of humans working office jobs sitting all day (like me). Tight hip flexors pull the pelvis forward (anterior pelvic tilt), which is the #1 cause of lower back tightness and pain, a problem that also affects many distance runners (an activity that I engaged in for years and was exceedingly good at until I came to terms with how fantastically damaging and tension-producing it can be). Tight hips can even cause knee, upper back and neck pain! Maintaining a high degree of hip mobility can mean the difference between living a life free of widespread muscle tension and living one plagued by muscular imbalance.

I’m sure I didn’t invent this stretch, but I’ve never seen it before. A physio band is looped around the top of one foot close to the toes and the leg is subsequently pulled across the body up and behind the other leg. Maintain focus on pressing the bent knee into the ground and thrusting that hip toward the ceiling at the same time. Moving the non-stretched leg away from the stretched leg increases the intensity of the stretch.

External hip rotation stretch.

External hip rotation stretch.

Hip stretch with internal rotation

This movement is the opposite of external rotation. A physio band is looped around the top of one foot close to the toes and the leg is subsequently pulled out and away from the body. Maintain focus on pressing the bent knee into the ground and thrusting that hip toward the ceiling. Moving the non-stretched leg away from the stretched leg increases the intensity of the stretch.

Internal rotation hip stretch.

Internal rotation hip stretch.

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