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The 5 Minute Daily Stretch To Unlock Your Muscles (5 Exercises!)

by Jeremy Ethier - February 26, 2022

If you don't use it, you'll lose it. That's not only applicable to your muscles (e.g., rotator cuffs), but also to your mobility. So, in this article, I cover the daily mobility routine consisting of 5 stretch exercises everyone needs.

Our bodies are VERY efficient at maintaining the resources we use and getting rid of what we don’t. If we stop training, we get weaker. Similarly, if we don’t regularly use the full range of motion of our joints, we quickly lose our ability to do so. Most people in this day and age haven’t made use of various stretch exercises to train their full range of motion in their joints for years.

As a result, the shoulders, hips, back, and ankles just don’t move like they may have used to.

A good example here is how certain cultures, such as Southeast Asians, use the deep squat every day. They can thus assume that position quite easily. Admittedly, while differences in bone structure do play a role, you can contrast that to western cultures, where very few are able to perform a comfortable deep squat.

Before that: if you're looking for a training program that'll take care of all the factors necessary for optimal muscle growth (nutrition, mobility, and recovery), I've got just the thing for you. Every BWS program is designed to help you transform your physique in the most time-efficient manner. And best of all? It's all rooted in science. For more information on how BWS programs can help you to look better - FAST:

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What's The Deal With Mobility?

And that's worrying. This loss of mobility can:

  • Create feelings of tightness
  • Limit your ability to perform certain lifts in the gym
  • Prevent you from being able to activate certain muscles very well AND

... May even extend far beyond this.

For example, try sitting down and rising from the floor without using your hands or knees for support.

How easy or difficult was that for you to do?

A 2014 paper found that those who had more difficulty with this simple test had an increased likelihood of all-cause mortality as they aged.

Now, it's worth noting that there are several other variables at play here. Still, it does illustrate the potential importance of improving and maintaining your mobility especially as you age.

So, how do we improve this?

Well, today I’ll show you how by focusing on the right areas and the right stretch exercises, you can significantly improve your mobility in just 5 minutes.

Implement this stretch routine daily and:

  • You'll feel better
  • Your lifts will improve AND
  • You'll likely soon notice an unlocking of tight and sleepy muscles that you may have never even known existed

Key Focus Areas Of The Daily Stretch Exercises

Before we dive into the stretch exercises, we first need to understand what will make this 5-minute routine so effective. A little preface to that, though. Note that I have released quite a bit of posture and mobility routines that can help you in the past. Examples include:

But ... let's face it. The shorter a stretching routine is, the more likely you’ll be able to stick to it. A 5 minutes stretch done every day (regardless of it being before or after your workout) will be far superior to a 10 or 20-minute routine you only get around doing once or twice a week.

But because this routine is only 5 minutes, we need to make sure the stretching exercises focus on areas that need the most help.

So, based on the:

  • Sedentary day-to-day life of most individuals AND
  • Results of a recent poll I ran on my Instagram

... We picked 3 key areas. The hips, the upper back, and an area you probably don’t even realize needs help: the ankles. Now, you may think that your problem areas lie elsewhere, like your shoulders and hamstrings.

But here's the thing. Because these 3 areas are such important links in the human kinetic chain, improvements here tend to improve everywhere else.

To ensure we mobilize these areas properly though, pay close attention to the form and modifications I’m about to show you for each exercise, as the details really do matter.

Daily Stretch Exercises That'll Change Your Life

Exercise 1: Cat Cow (60 Seconds)

The first stretch exercise will be used to loosen up the spine and our back muscles in preparation for our next exercises.

This is especially helpful in the morning after we’ve been laying in bed for several hours.

To perform it:

  • Get onto all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders
  • From here, round your back up towards the ceiling in a gentle motion. Imagine as if someone was pullling your mid-back with a rope. As you do this, take a deep breath in while tucking your head down.
  • Then, exhale as you reverse this motion by now curving your back the opposite way while lifting your head up

Based on the lab research of back pain expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, he found that just seven to eight cycles of this are what’s needed for the most benefit.

When done slowly and controlled, this should take you about a minute to do.

Have trouble nailing down this motion? Try placing a band around your mid-back. This will help pull your spine into the bottom position. And it will then give you the resistance and sensory feedback you may need to learn how to properly round your spine upwards.

For your reference, here’s a snapshot of each part of the stretch you can reference. I’ll do the same with the next 4 exercises as well.

First of the stretch exercises cat cow

Exercise 2: World's Greatest Stretch (30 Seconds Per Side)

The next of the stretch exercises, called the “World’s Greatest Stretch”, will be the most effective way to hit all the key problem areas at once.

This stretch has 3 parts to it:

  1. Lunge
  2. Drop
  3. Reach

The first part focuses on your hips and ankles:

  • Get into a plank position with your hands under your shoulders and feet together
  • From here, lunge forward by brining your right foot up as high as you can (ideally next to where your right hand is). You should feel a deep stretch in your groin muscles of your front leg and the hip flexors of your back leg as you do this.
  • Next, take your right hand and place it on your knee
  • Push your knee out and back - and then forward and back a few times to loosen up the hips and ankles

Then, we'll deepen the stretch even more in the second part of the stretch. You can do so by dropping your right elbow as far towards the ground as you can while rotating your upper body down towards the ground.

As you do this, try to keep your right knee pushed out rather than letting it collapse inwards.

Then, for part three, we're going to really open up the mid and upper back. To do so, rotate your entire upper body up and to the right and reach your right arm as far overhead as you can. If you can, try to keep your back leg as straight as possible as you do so. Then, reach back down and repeat this for 5 reps or about 30 seconds in total before switching to the next side.

How To Regress The Exercise

Now, this is quite a difficult stretch exercise.

To make it easier, you can keep your leg bent or your knee on the ground and work towards straightening it more and more over time.

Don’t be discouraged if you can only reach so far here and there in the beginning. Just stay consistent with it and it’ll improve very quickly.

Finally, here’s a snapshot of each part of the stretch for your reference.

World's greatest stretch

Ultimately, there are always modifications you can make to your exercises (including stretch-related ones) to suit your training experience and goals. However, picking the right alternative exercise can be tricky. And that's where BWS programs come in. Get all the guidance you need to transform your physique as effectively and safely as possible:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Exercise 3: Asian Squat (30 Seconds Hold, 30 Seconds Rock Side To Side)

Next, we’re going to do what I’ll just call the Asian squat. But with a few modifications to really open up the hips and ankles:

  • First, get a rolled-up towel and place your heels on it
  • From here, using a squat stance that's typically just outside shoulder-width, squat down into however deep is comfortable for you. Keep your chest up and try to keep your heels down. If your heels do come up, you can roll up the towel to make it even thicker. Otherwise, it's fine if you have to keep your heels up.
  • From here, place your arms on the inside of your legs. Use your elbows to push your knees out.
  • Sit in this position for 30 seconds. You should feel a deep stretch in your groin and in the muscles around your ankles.

In a rush to get to work? Don't worry. You can have breakfast while you’re at it.

And then, for the next 30 seconds, move side to side to stretch out each ankle one at a time.

As you do this, avoid collapsing your knees in and avoid pointing your feet too far outwards. That's because doing these takes the stretch away from the ankles.

Instead, try to keep your feet angled out at max about 30-45 degrees out. Keep each knee in line with the outside of your toes.

How To Progress The Exercise

Now, there are a couple of ways to progress this stretch exercise.

In the beginning, if you struggle with ankle mobility, you may need quite a bit of heel elevation to comfortably get down into a deep squat. Over time, try to use less and less heel elevation. See if you can eventually get to using no elevation at all.

Then, at the bottom position, to open up the hips even more, you’ll first just push your knees out with your arms straight ahead. Once that gets easy, try to place your hands together into a prayer position. Once that gets easy, place your hands together into fists. Each progression will open up your hips more and more by spreading out the distance between your elbows.

Finally, here’s a snapshot of each part of the stretch for you to screenshot.

How to perform one of the best stretch exercises the Asian squat

Exercise 4: Half-Kneeling Thoracic Rotations (30 Seconds)

Next, we’re going to really focus on mobilizing the upper back with rotation and opening up the chest. Here's how to do this stretch exercise:

  • Get into a half-kneeling position with your right leg bent as close to the wall as you can get it, and your lefft leg planted forward in a lunge position
  • Place both arms directly in front of you with your right arm making contact with the wall
  • From here, push your right hand into the wall as you rotate your upper body to the left, trying to reach your left arm to the other side of the wall. As you do this, avoid rotating at your hips and try to rotate only the upper body.
  • Return to the starting position and then repeat for 30 seconds before switching sides.

To make it easier when starting out, try moving your planted leg further away from the wall and just try to rotate as far as you can without rotating your hips.

As this improves, try to move your leg closer to the wall and rotate further.

Then, once you can get that down, you can progress it even further to really open up the chest and shoulders by sliding your hand against the wall as if you were drawing a half-moon.

Here’s a snapshot of each part for you to reference.

Half kneeling thoracic rotations

Exercise 5: Wall Slides (60 Seconds)

Now that we’ve loosened up your upper back, we will now temporarily have the mobility we need to be able to better activate and strengthen some of the smaller, weakened muscles in the back. Strengthening these muscles will help you maintain these mobility improvements long term.

The exercise we’ll use to do so is wall slides.

To perform it:

  • Stand with your back against a wall and contract your abs to flatten your lower back on the wall
  • Then, slide your arms up and down the wall

To make this stretch exercise easier when starting out, place your feet further away from the wall. Then, over time, try to get your feet closer and closer to the wall while trying your best to keep your lower back flat against the wall.

When done properly, you should feel a few muscles in your mid-back really light up as you raise your arms up.

Can’t initially keep your arms in contact with the wall all the way through? Or you can’t slide your arms up very high at all? That’s all perfectly fine.

Just focus on improving this over time.

And here’s a snapshot of each part of the stretch exercise for your reference.

Wall slides

Full 5-Minute Daily Mobility Routine

Here are the stretch exercises in your 5-minute daily mobility routine:

  1. Cat Cow (60 Seconds)
  2. World's Greatest Stretch (30 Seconds Per Side)
  3. Asian Squat (30 Seconds Hold, 30 Seconds Rock Side To Side)
  4. Half-Kneeling Thoracic Rotations (30 Seconds)
  5. Wall Slides

Focus on doing as many high-quality reps as you can within the 1 minute you have for each of the stretch exercises.

And for your convenience, I’ve also created a completely free, downloadable daily stretching routine PDF that contains the full routine, step-by-step tutorials for each exercise, and instructions on how to use this routine for the best results. To download it, just click on the button below and I’ll send it right over to you::

Click the button below to download the free daily stretching routine PDF:

Implement this daily, make an effort to move more, and supplement this with exercises in the gym like split squats and overhead presses that help you actually use your new mobility, and you’ll very quickly notice a massive improvement in how you move and feel.

And for a step-by-step program that takes a holistic, science-based approach to transforming your body by focusing not just on your workouts but also on your nutrition, your mobility, and your recovery, take our analysis quiz to discover which of our programs are best for you and your body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

That’s it for today guys! Do give me a follow on Instagram if you haven’t already to check out some more of my content. Thanks so much and I’ll see ya next time!

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

How To Unlock Your Mobility in 5 Minutes (DAILY STRETCH)

The 5 Minute Daily Stretch To Unlock Your Muscles (5 Exercises!)