Stretching goes hand-in-hand with recovery, which is as important a part of your overall fitness regimen as food and sleep. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with bending over to touch your toes or pulling your elbow down behind your head, there are tools to take your stretching routine to a higher plane. In this guide, we’ve tested and rounded up several of the absolute best there are.
Is There a “Best” Stretching Tool?
No, of course not. The best tool is the right one for the job you have. There is not an all-encompassing stretching aid that cures all ailments, just like there isn’t one diet that everyone should stick to for six-pack abs (though keto, intermittent fasting, or even carnivore diet followers might suggest otherwise). If you find your lower back is tight when you wake up and when you’re going to sleep, you wouldn’t address it with an ankle stretcher, and so on. There are a number of more general stretching tools that cover more parts of your body, but it’s important to first identify your problem areas, then go from there.
What to Look for in a Stretching Tool
Identify the area you want to stretch
First, answer the “what.” Are you looking for a full-body tool you can use pre- or post-workout or are you looking for a solve to a particular ache or pain? Figure out the “what” before doing any shopping.
Consistency is key
Once you’ve solved the “what,” look for any features that keep the tool in your daily rotation. Much like exercise, the best stretching routine is the one you’ll do the most. Mobility and flexibility is a long game, which means it’s more important that you approach your stretching routine with consistency rather than brute forcing fewer, more irregular sessions.
How big is the tool? Could you toss it in your gym bag? Would it fit in your carry-on? If you can take it with you, it becomes part of your everyday carry setup, which means you’re more likely to use it. Will it slide under your couch so you can slip 10 minutes in while watching Game of Thrones for the fifth time? Consider the moments you’ll actually use these things, then make certain you buy a product that fits into that outline.