Fitness Tips

The 2 Stretches Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez Does For Tight Hips and Calves

Tamara Pridgett

Graphic: W+G Creative
At the age of 20, gymnast Laurie Hernandez is out of retirement. A lot has transpired since we last saw Hernandez and the Final Five compete, but Hernandez is keenly aimed on representing the United States in gymnastics at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Like most athletes, Hernandez isn’t embarking on this journey alone—it takes a team to reach the heights she has. With the support of her family, coaches, and sponsors like Trulicity, she’s in in a strong position to get on the podium once again. (Trulicity is a prescription medicine for adults with type 2 diabetes, like Hernandez’s father. Watching him be proactive about his health over the years has motivated her to do the same, she says.)

“There’s definitely a lot of work and energy being put into practice and fine-tuning things.” —Laurie Hernandez

Hernandez admits that her overall routine, specifically her training, is nothing like her prep work for the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It’s been quite interesting to come back for 2020-2021,” she says. “I mean, I already knew that it was going to be a lot of work. It definitely was—and still is. But now that meet season is a week and a half away, there’s definitely a lot of work and energy being put into practice and fine-tuning things,” she says.

Hernandez says her preparation has changed drastically since she was 16. Her gym hours aren’t as long as they used to be, she no longer trains six times a week, and her coaches value quality over quantity. And because she’s been competing at an elite level for so long, her muscles and joints have sustained a lot of impact (and, at times,injuries). That’s why recovery is a crucial aspect of her training routine. When she’s done recovery work, Hernandez says, “I walk into practice and I think, ‘Okay, here I am. I feel connected. I’m ready to go.’ Then all my skills just fall into place and they’re easier, and I can give a lot more effort.”

One aspect of recovery Hernandez swears by is stretching, and one of her go-to stretches is oversplits. “Especially if I take a couple days off and I come back, stretching in oversplits makes sure that my hips are good if I’m doing a dynamic fold,” she says. If you’ve got tight hips and splits aren’t an option,  hip-opening stretches such as half front splits, lizard pose, and straddle stretch can help tremendously.

Outside of gymnastics-specific stretches, anything that targets her calves and hip flexors are her favorites. For calves specifically, Hernandez says she loves to do the standing wall calf stretch, targeting the calf and Achilles muscles. Whether you’re an Olympic hopeful or not—okay, probably not, but still!—these stretches can help alleviate tightness you’ve developed through your favorite muscle-quivering activities. It’s not a gold medal, but you’ll definitely feel like a champ.

In need of some stretches to alleviate tight hips? Try this quick yoga flow:

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