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The Diagonal Stretch

 Performing a deep diagonal stretch - after a long period of practice.
Performing a deep diagonal stretch – after a long period of practice.

The diagonal stretch, a beautiful expression of strength and mobility. This stretch is by far the most beneficial I have run into so far in my training. If you are not working on developing the full diagonal position, I suggest pushing it up on your goals list.

I was introduced to the diagonal stretch by Ido Portal during my internship in 2016 – but had read about it from a post he made earlier. Click here to read that post.

We are currently working this pattern with our students and are looking for small improvements over the course of our current phase. In order to help them progress more efficiently, we want to share a few tips.

First, How do we perform the diagonal stretch?

  1. Take both feet on a line and turn them out 45 degrees from center.

  2. Take one foot behind the other and slide the foot straight back, aiming to keep it in the same line as the heel of the front foot. The distance of the leg will be different for everyone and should be experimented with.

  3. Take your opposite arm of the front leg and place it across your chest touching the opposite shoulder. Note that you will touch the shoulder on the same side of the front leg.

  4. Reaching over the front leg – lean back and add a very slight rotation if needed to touch SOME part of your leg. It is very important for tracking progress that you touch SOMETHING. Start with the hamstring and work your way back to your heel.

  5. Allow your back leg to SLIGHTLY bend as you are reaching back. Your weight should be mostly on the back leg which will create an angle from your front leg to your hips. Your back foot will be off the heel and on the toes.

Now – what should you NOT do?

  1. Do NOT bend to touch your target. No side flexing.

  2. Do NOT turn it into a lunge. The body is leaning back – not straight.

  3. Do NOT count a rep if you lose balance.

  4. Do NOT put weight into your fingers/hands as you touch. (You want to keep the tension in the right places)

  5. Do NOT push this to maximal range everyday.

With proper progressive loading and instruction, anyone can achieve the full diagonal!

 Rachel - one of our students achieving full position.
Rachel – one of our students achieving full position.

Do not be discouraged if you are constantly falling over in the beginning. In your first attempts a mosquitos fart can knock you over.

The diagonal stretch provides an excellent stretch WHILE strengthening the back hip flexors and entire anterior chain. This is why the “stretch” feels more like a strength exercise. It is loaded. Incorporate to improve your back bridges, prepare yourself for acrobatics, and more. I have also found this to be a great exercise to alleviate any hip flexor issues from working your hip compression a lot (think Stalder presses and Press to Handstand).

See more examples of the diagonal in action by clicking HERE, and HERE.

So, give it a whirl and if you are practicing with us, now you have some standards to work with and a basis for developing the position on your own!

Need more guidance on implementing the diagonal stretch? Set up an intro session below!


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