By Tanner Garrity
Unless you’re a yoga instructor, Mrs. Incredible or Tom Brady, you should probably be stretching more.
It’s the best defense against aging, injury and your daily dose of eight hours in a desk chair ... yet few of us give our flexibility the time and thought it deserves.
So one of our editors set out on a quest — to touch his toes in 30 days.
The plan? A daily regimen of six simple stretches totaling no more than 15 minutes, as curated by the owner of a leading New York yoga studio.
The result: He’s not a “Japanese Ham Sandwich” yet, but his hammies feel better than ever.
An Honest Appraisal of Where I Started
Remember the sit and reach? That flexibility test with the little ruler-lined box you've probably come across in a stone-age gym class or the annual physical-education tests you took in junior high? Pretty straightforward: press your feet against the box, throw your arms forward on the measuring block. Someone reads a number. Mine was always lousy.
I am 6’3” and hit the gym three times a week, jog occasionally, enjoy playing tennis, hiking and longboarding … and up until 30 days ago, could not touch my toes. Seriously. Sitting or standing. The photos above are me at my most elastic.
More concerning, though, was a sort of lifelong apathy for my lack of flexibility. It never seemed like a big deal. But these days I sit in front of a screen for 8-9 hours a day. I experience tight, restless legs and a sore lower back, but never do anything about it.
So I decided to enlist the help of a pro and take on a 30-day challenge to see if a faithful daily regimen could break me out of my funk.
Enter: Kate Davies, generally flexible person and owner of YO BK, a hot yoga studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kate devised a plan to help me open my lower back, loosen my hamstrings and reintroduce myself to my pups.
The Perfect 6-Step Daily Stretch Routine
This routine should take about 12-15 minutes; it can be done in the morning, at night, after working out or after taking a bath/shower. Each exercise should be held for 10-15 slow breaths.