Mobility Tip of the Week: Death Stretch

Got tight hips and quads?  Sit a lot?  The Death Stretch is hands down one of my favorites to recommend.  This mobility exercise gets its name from the pain (often associated with death) it has caused others in the past.  Kelly Starrett of MobilityWod calls it the Couch Stretch.

(this is not the couch stretch fyi…)

I was first exposed to this mobility drill in 2009 when I first joined Robb Wolf‘s gym, Crossfit NorCal (if you are into history of Crossfit, this might be an article of interest).

I was green when it came to the term “mobility” then as most folks in 2009 were.  Crossfit and mobility weren’t a household name yet, but they definitely were a growing trend.  I was taking NorCal coach Nicki Violetti’s Olympic Weightlifting classes then, and we had to do this drill a few times during the class session.  I dreaded it!  I was as tight as Scrooge with his money (still a work in progress) and my hips and quads felt like they were going to rip off each time…but she stressed consistency.

Well…I drank the Kool-Aid (no sugar added as the gym was Paleo and the owners had a code to follow…) and kept working on it.

I finally started seeing some progress.  Gosh darn it.  They were right.  I could pull a leg up in a few months in and the stretch actually started to feel good instead of down right painful.  Eventually I was able to sit up tall and get my glutes engaged which allowed me to get my hips forward (this allows you to maximize the stretch in the hips and quads).

Here is a great video of my On Ramp coach Cindy Oji (The O.G.) demonstrating The Death Stretch from NorCal Strength and Conditioning’s extensive library on YouTube:

I first started off with this stretch doing 2 minutes per leg.  Not sure if that is the best strategy if you are tighter than a 2 dollar bill like me.  I would suggest for newbies to hit 1 minute per leg and alternate for a second minute per leg (still hitting 2 minutes a leg, just breaking it up into 2 rounds).

Death Stretch
A great way to start the Death Stretch for Beginners!

That way you aren’t overloading your nervous system too quickly and you can start building up the stimulus and exposure over time to excel with this mobility drill.  In my opinion 2 minutes should be the maximum hold for this stretch, but some will argue to hold for 4 minutes.  If you have the time, then go for it.  I find using this drill and adding a variety of other mobility drills will maximize your time and effectiveness.

Now…go give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you by posting a video or photo on Instagram or Facebook tagging @norcal__spartan and using #norcalspartan so I can see how you are doing.  Got any questions, DM me on Instagram or comment on this post.  Get out there and win people!

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