I never miss a day in the gym… but ask me to stretch for 10 minutes… all of a sudden my schedule is full. 

Stretching and mobility work is an easy way to increase our Range of Motion (ROM), reduce the risk of injuries, rehabilitate a strained muscle, slow things down, and learn to relax. 

I’ve tried to follow specific stretching protocols and have finally realized; I’m not going to stick with them. So, I picked what I believe are the 4 best exercises for improving ROM and do them daily. On rest days, I’ll do these 4 back to back as a recovery day protocol. Then on workout days, I do the mobility/dynamic exercises before my workout and the static stretches just before bed.

Before we start, some important notes:

  • Dynamic/ Mobility Exercises: These are exercises where you move through a full ROM and are best suited prior to working out.
  • Static Stretches: This type of exercise is where you hold a stretch for a given amount of time (:30-:60 seconds) with no movement. These stretches are best post-workout and/or prior to bed! Side note: I love doing a few static stretches before bed while doing deep breathing. This is a great way to relax and get into a restful state. 

Squat + Thoracic Rotation (Mobility/Dynamic Exercise)

If you could only choose one mobility exercise for the rest of your life, this should be your go-to! Holding the squat improves mobility in the hips, groin, and ankles while twisting the torso stretches the lats, shoulders, and low back. 

I do 10-12 reps of this exercise before every single workout whether training my upper body or lower body. It helps ease soreness from the prior day as well as prepare me for whatever I am training that day!

Wrist and Ankle Combo (Mobility/ Dynamic Exercise)

This might be the most underrated mobility exercise of all time. Think about the position your wrists are in all day as we constantly use our phones (flexed). This can cause all kinds of chronic issues over time. The position of the hands during this exercise allows you to stretch the muscles of the forearm and hopefully negate some of the effects of using our phones so much!

The beauty of this exercise is that we are simultaneously able to improve mobility in two neglected areas: the first being the wrists and the second being the toes, ankles, and bottom of the feet. Think about this: we are constantly in shoes that are essentially a “cast” for our feet. The feet get locked up and stiff. This stretch is an amazing way to improve mobility in the feet that we lose over time from wearing shoes. 

I like to do 15-20 reps of the Wrist and Ankle Combo prior to my workout

The ‘Brettzel’ Stretch (Static Stretch)

This is my go-to static stretch because it does 3 things all at once. The ‘Brettzel’ basically combines two of the all-time greatest stretches: the pigeon pose + the couch stretch as well as adding in a torso twist. Since we are trying to optimize our time, this is incredible. This super stretch will increase flexibility in the hips, glutes, lats, and shoulders! Oh yeah!

Try 60 seconds per side while focusing on breathing deep post-workout and/or just before bed.

Corner Pec Stretch (Static Stretch)

I talk about posture a lot and as I typed the word “posture” just now, I sat up a bit straighter in my chair! We all spend a lot of time on our computers and texting/ Instagramming/ TikTok’ing on our phones. Most of the time this equals a hunched-over posture with our necks craned, looking down. This is another chronic habit that can lead to poor posture and tight chest and neck issues. The corner pec stretch is an epic way to combat poor posture. No equipment is needed. Just find an empty corner, make your arms look like field goalposts, and ease into the stretch. This stretch will open up the chest and, if done consistently, teach us better posture!

Try 60 seconds per side while focusing on breathing deep post-workout and/or just before bed.

If you do all 4 of these exercises daily, you are looking at a grand total of 5 minutes of stretching. Even I can handle that! I love to think of compounding interest. Several small habits, done daily, will combine for big results over time.

Meet the Author

Ben Barker is a fitness coach from Little Rock where he lives with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog, Wrigley. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Central Arkansas and is passionate about helping people push their boundaries of fitness and performance. 

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