Given its name, “the world’s greatest road” certainly has a lot to live up to. To see if it deserved this moniker, I decided to put its body-boosting benefits to the test.
My average mobility week includes a combination of high-intensity resistance training, weight lifting, gymnastics, and some mobility exercises. I decided I would incorporate the world’s best stretching into my routine for seven days, with a minimum of 10 repetitions on each side.
“The world’s biggest gap has so many benefits,” Jess Suthard, a certified personal trainer with Goal Planning powered by MuscleFood, told me at the start of the challenge. “It can improve your core strength, help improve posture, and improve mobility in your hips, ankles, and spine.”
I’m always looking to build a more mobile body—one that moves better and hurts less, so Suthard’s words got me excited about taking on this challenge. But can this stretch of road deliver on its world-beating promises?
How to do the world’s greatest stretch
- Start in a high plank position, hands and toes in contact with the ground. Your hands should be placed directly under your shoulders and your body should be tense so that your legs, back and neck form a straight line. Bring your right foot toward the outside of your right hand.
- Keeping your left leg straight behind you, drop your right elbow to the ground between your left hand and right foot. It’s okay if your elbows don’t touch the floor.
- Next, raise your right hand to the sky, opening your chest and shoulders. You can look up at your right hand if you feel comfortable.
- Continue alternating between bringing your right elbow to the ground and your right arm toward the sky until you have done 10 reps. Then repeat this movement with the left side, right leg stretched straight back.
Three benefits I experienced while doing the world’s greatest stretch
1. It affects the entire body
Most stretches target a specific muscle or joint; The longest road in the world is more comprehensive.
“It’s one of my favorite exercises, simply because it works your entire body,” says Suthard.
“It can increase the ribcage [mid-spine] mobility through twisting movements, while stretching the lower body and encouraging flexibility in the hip, knee and ankle joints.”
I definitely feel this. By letting my front knee angle out a bit, I enjoyed a great stretch in my hips, thighs, and glutes.
The gentle rotation keeps my spine alert while my chest and shoulders open as I stretch my arms skyward. This is definitely a full-body stretch.
2. It’s a great addition to a warm-up
On day one of this challenge, I included the world’s best stretches in my warm-up before my 90-minute CrossFit workout.
It opens up my shoulders and stretches my spine, which is perfect for gymnastics training. It also works my glutes and hamstrings so I’m ready for some heavy squats with weights later in the workout. Not only does this prepare my body for the movements I’m about to do, but it also reduces my risk of injury.
3. It also has benefits for daily life
This stretch shouldn’t just be reserved for gym and warm-up sessions.
“It can be extremely effective if you work at a desk and have a sedentary lifestyle because it will help your entire body move more easily in everyday life,” says Suthard.
During long periods of laptop use, and especially when I notice my back starting to hurt, I’ll roll out my yoga mat and do some of the world’s best stretches.
I once again enjoyed the stretch in my hips and spine, both of which can feel weak and tight after a long period of sitting down. So I recommend you try this if you work at a desk all day.
After seven days of doing the world’s best stretches every day, I noticed my shoulders and spine were stronger and I could move more freely during my workouts. That means my body is ready to move and lift weights, and I feel more confident in the gym, lifting heavier weights and doing more intense exercises.
“After a week, you’ll notice your body will feel much looser and you’ll feel more flexible overall,” Suthard tells me.
“You will also notice improvements in your posture due to increased mobility and reduced muscle tension; it will improve the function of your muscles and joints.”
So if you’re looking to improve your pre-workout routine or simply want to add more effective stretching time into your day, I definitely recommend doing a good stretch best of the world.
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