The “scorpion stretch” gives hips, low back, and hamstrings a triple release


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Photo: Getty Images/Francesco Carta fotografo

If you want to prep your body to really kick ass in your workout—whether you’re going for a run or hitting a spin class or working with weights—trainers think you should channel a scorpion before you start moving. The “scorpion stretch” is one of the best warm-ups you can do, giving further proof to my theory that animal-based activity can help fire up your body and cool it down, too.

“The scorpion stretch is a safe exercise for increasing hip and lower back mobility while also engaging the lower back,” says Derek Maxfield, a Boston-based trainer and owner of Fitness Together. Sure, it makes you look like one of those incredibly scary arachnids (you lift one leg up and roll it over to resemble a scorpion’s tail), but you’ll also love it for the satisfying hip flexor stretch it gives.

“The scorpion stretch should be done before a workout to warm up and open tight hip flexors and the lower back, and can be done between sets for active recovery,” says Maxfield. “It’s a great starting point for people to stretch with limited mobility. Hip flexors and the lower back are often neglected in exercises and stretches, but are essential for strengthening the core.” Whether you do it before a workout to get things warmed up or after you’re a little sore, the scorpion stretch will provide a ripple release for hamstrings, the low back, and hips.

To do the scorpion, you’re lying down on a mat or the ground, and only your legs move. “Make sure to keep your torso down on the ground to limit how far your leg rotates behind the body,” says Maxfield. “You don’t want to allow your body to roll over with your leg.” Place both arms beside you, fully extended at 90-degrees for additional support, and slowly lift one leg up while allowing your hips to twist with the motion. Hold near the end of the twist for a full stretch. For an idea of what it looks like (because it’s not often we pretend to be a scorpion), check out the video below.

For more animal-inspired fitness moves, try frog hops to stretch your back and open your hips at the same time. And the dragon walk exercise will have you breathing actual fire. 

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