Leg Stretches for Flexibility: 7 Stretches for Your Lower Body

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Stretching isn’t precisely probably the most glamorous or thrilling a part of anybody’s health routine, however it is an vital half. To maximise the time you spend getting lengthy and unfastened, you wish to do efficient stretches that may make an affect in your exercises and your life—that’s the place leg stretches are available in. We’ve completed the leg work (pun supposed!) and narrowed it right down to the seven finest stretches to enhance your decrease physique flexibility.

Everybody can profit from enhancing their flexibility, however neglecting your decrease physique is a good way to ask ache and stiffness into your life. One of the crucial apparent indicators that tight muscle tissues may very well be inflicting points, says Andrew Peak, CPT, corrective train specialist and founding father of Storage Gymnasium Greatness, is problem doing on a regular basis actions on account of stiffness, similar to squatting down or choosing objects off of the ground.

“Tight leg muscle tissues can even result in poor posture and alignment, which is usually noticeable throughout standing or strolling,” he says. This may result in hip, knee, and decrease again ache.

One other signal of diminished flexibility? “Recurring discomfort or stiffness within the legs, particularly after durations of inactivity or following train,” he says.

You don’t have to make stretching your prime health precedence, however you do have to stretch often—significantly your decrease physique—to reap the advantages. If you wish to actually enhance your flexibility, you possibly can stretch each day to see the quickest enchancment. However at minimal, the American School of Sports activities Drugs says it is best to stretch no less than two to 3 days per week.

6 stretching advantages

These are simply among the expert-backed causes it is best to add the beneath leg stretches to your health routine.

1. Improves vary of movement and adaptability

An everyday stretching routine helps your physique transfer with ease. “Stretching helps hold the muscle tissues extra versatile and maintains the conventional vary of movement within the joint which is crucial for every day purposeful exercise,” says Karly Mendez, human efficiency specialist with Memorial Hermann’s Rockets Sports activities Drugs Institute.

2. Improves athletic efficiency and reduces accidents

Analysis1 has discovered that stretching can enhance your muscle power and agility, in addition to stop accidents. A joint with full vary of movement features prefer it ought to—which implies the muscle tissues are stronger and more healthy. For finest outcomes, specialists say to carry out dynamic stretching (lively stretches that take your joint by means of the complete vary of movement) earlier than athletic actions, and passive stretching (holding a stretch for a time frame) after train or athletic actions.

3. Will increase blood stream

“Stretching the legs helps enhance blood stream to the muscle tissues, which helps nourish the muscle tissues and allows your muscle tissues to work most effectively and successfully,” says Mendez. Due to the enhanced blood stream2, doing leg stretches for flexibility might assist your muscle tissues get well extra effectively after train.

4. Decreases again ache

Tight muscle tissues may cause ache and stiffness in your again. They don’t permit your backbone to maneuver prefer it ought to, which will increase your threat of accidents and muscle spasms. A 2023 research3 discovered that stretching introduced rapid and long-term ache reduction for many who had continual low again ache.

5. Improves posture

Tightness in your leg muscle tissues can have an effect on each sitting and standing posture. Your lumbar backbone has a pure slight curve. In case your hamstring muscle tissues are tight4, it will probably rotate your pelvis again which may flatten that pure curve, resulting in a hunched over posture. Muscle tightness in your hip flexors (typically from sitting all day) can pull the pelvis ahead and end in poor posture and ultimately again ache.

6. Alleviates stress

Feeling anxious? A 2013 research5 discovered a stretching program helped scale back nervousness, stress, and ache. It additionally helps enhance your temper. Researchers mentioned that static stretching prompts the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you loosen up by decreasing how a lot cortisol your physique releases.

7 leg stretches for flexibility

These stretches enhance flexibility in all the foremost muscle tissues in your decrease physique and are static stretches, which implies it’s finest to do these after exercising or after a warmup.

“Take into account a lightweight stroll, bike, or jog for about 5 minutes earlier than going right into a stretch,” Mendez says. Whereas stretching, you’ll really feel pulling or have delicate discomfort, however it is best to by no means really feel sharp ache. Cease the stretch should you really feel this. “Don’t bounce whereas stretching, and be constant along with your stretching,” says Mendez.

1. The World’s Biggest Stretch

Mendez places the “World’s Biggest Stretch” on the prime of her record—and for good motive. This stretch, which is basically a lunge with a spinal twist, obtained this nickname as it’s a fabulous solution to stretch all the foremost muscle teams in your physique. This stretch is each static and dynamic, so it’s an amazing transfer to begin your stretching routine. It’s going to enhance flexibility in your hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, quads, and calves. It additionally opens up and stretches your chest, arms, and backbone.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie demonstrates the world's greatest stretch, one of the best leg stretches for flexibility
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Begin within the excessive plank place, along with your palms shoulder-width aside and your legs straight behind you. Your physique needs to be in a straight line.
  2. Step your proper foot ahead so you might be in a runner’s lunge place.
  3. Hold your foot outdoors of your palms.
  4. Twisting your torso, attain your proper arm up towards the ceiling. Hold your left arm on the bottom. You ought to be taking a look at your proper hand.
  5. Maintain for 10 seconds.
  6. Place each palms again on the bottom and step your proper leg again so you might be within the plank beginning place.
  7. Step your left foot ahead in a runner’s lunge, conserving your foot outdoors of your palms.
  8. Twist and attain your left hand up towards the ceiling.
  9. Maintain 10 seconds.
  10. Repeat 5 instances on both sides.

2. Hip 90-90 Stretch

The hip 90-90 stretch is an excellent solution to enhance mobility within the hips, because it will increase flexibility with each inside rotation and exterior rotation. It stretches all of the muscle tissues round your hip, together with abductors, adductors, glutes, hip flexors, and piriformis.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie does the hip 90-90 stretch, a leg stretch to improve flexibility
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Sit on the ground and bend one leg in entrance, along with your knee at a 90-degree angle. Your knee and ankle needs to be resting on the bottom.
  2. Place your different leg to the facet, bending that additionally to a 90-degree angle with that knee and ankle on the bottom.
  3. Each knees needs to be pointing in the identical path.
  4. In case your knees can’t comfortably relaxation on the bottom, place a yoga block or rolled-up towel below the hip of your entrance leg to assist help.
  5. Hold your again straight and your weight evenly distributed on each hips.
  6. Maintain for 60 seconds.
  7. Rotate your legs the opposite method, so the leg that was in entrance is now within the again, and vice versa.
  8. Maintain for 60 seconds. Repeat for two to five reps on both sides.

3. Pigeon Pose Stretch

It is a nice stretch to do should you sit all day. “I really like the pigeon stretch to develop hip flexibility and mobility,” says Peak. This hip-opening transfer stretches your hip flexors, glutes, piriformis, and groin.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie shows how to do the pigeon pose stretch on a blue mat
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Begin in a downward canine place.
  2. Raise your proper leg up behind you towards the ceiling, after which transfer it ahead till your proper knee is bent in entrance.
  3. Whereas your proper knee is bent in entrance, your left leg needs to be straight behind you.
  4. The highest of your left foot needs to be resting on the bottom. Hold your pelvis straight forward.
  5. Retaining your backbone straight and arms in entrance for help, maintain this place for 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Convey your legs again into the downward canine place, and repeat the sequence on the opposite facet.
  7. Repeat 3 to 4 instances on both sides.

4. Piriformis Stretch

In case you have sciatica or glute ache, the determine 4 stretch may help present reduction. This train stretches the piriformis muscle in your glute.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie shows the figure four piriformis stretch for lower body flexibility
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Lie on the ground with each knees bent and your ft flat on the ground.
  2. Cross your leg in order that the foot of 1 leg is resting on the knee of the opposite.
  3. Seize your thigh (slightly below your knee) and pull your knees towards your chest, feeling a stretch in your buttock.
  4. Maintain for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the opposite facet.
  6. Repeat 3 to five instances on both sides.

5. Foldover Stretch

This leg stretch will increase flexibility in your hamstrings, hips, and calves. It additionally supplies a pleasant light stretch in your decrease again.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie shows how to do the foldover stretch for leg flexibility
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Stand along with your ft hip-width aside and your palms at your sides.
  2. Fold ahead at your hips, as you attain in direction of the bottom.
  3. Your legs needs to be straight and your calves ought to keep on the bottom.
  4. Don’t lock your knees – it’s okay if they’ve a slight bend.
  5. Attempt to contact the ground along with your fingertips. In case you can’t contact the ground, bend your knees or use a yoga block below your palms till your flexibility improves.
  6. Maintain for 30-60 seconds.
  7. Slowly roll again as much as standing.
  8. Repeat 3-5 instances.

6. Standing Quad Stretch

This transfer stretches your quadriceps muscle, which is the massive muscle on the entrance of your thigh.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie shows the correct form for the standing quad stretch
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Get up straight, with one hand holding onto a chair or different steady floor for help.
  2. Stand in your proper foot and maintain your left ankle or shin by bending your leg behind you.
  3. Pull your bent leg into your glutes, specializing in conserving it straight and never twisting it.
  4. You’ll really feel a stretch alongside the entrance of your thigh.
  5. Maintain for 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the opposite facet.
  7. Repeat 5 to 10 instances on both sides.

7. Toes On Wall Stretch

This stretch not solely improves flexibility in your calf muscle but in addition the plantar fascia below your foot. This stretch is useful when you’ve got plantar fasciitis.

female PT with a long blond ponytail wearing black workout onesie shows how to do the toes on the wall stretch
Picture: Kim Grundy

  1. Stand and place your palms on the wall.
  2. Place your proper toes towards the wall and your left leg again.
  3. Retaining the heel of your left leg down, lean into the wall, feeling the stretch below your foot in your proper facet—and a stretch alongside the calf in your left leg.
  4. Maintain for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the opposite facet.
  6. Repeat 3 to five instances on both sides.

FAQ

What causes tight leg muscle tissues?

Consultants6 say that some individuals are simply genetically predisposed to having tighter muscle tissues than others. Different elements additionally play a task, together with a sedentary life-style.

“Sitting down on the workplace for prolonged durations is a main offender of tight leg muscle tissues,” says Peak. “Common stretching and taking little walks within the day may help with this.”

One other issue is overuse or not warming up correctly. “Excessive-intensity exercises within the fitness center or at work can result in tight legs. CrossFitters complain about this a good bit as a result of high-intensity, ‘squat-centric’ exercises,” says Peak.

When is the most effective time to stretch?

“It’s helpful to stretch each earlier than your exercise and after your exercise,” says Mendez. “Dynamic stretching is finest earlier than a exercise, whereas static stretching is finest post-workout or throughout your cooldown.”

“Dynamic stretches are extra activity-based actions to assist scale back stiffness and enhance pace and agility throughout your exercise, whereas static stretching entails no motion and are carried out holding a stretch for about 15 to 60 seconds,” she says.


Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, strong research to again up the knowledge we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Behm, David G et al. “Acute results of muscle stretching on bodily efficiency, vary of movement, and damage incidence in wholesome lively people: a scientific evaluate.” Utilized physiology, vitamin, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, vitamin et metabolisme vol. 41,1 (2016): 1-11. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0235
  2. Hotta, Kazuki et al. “Day by day muscle stretching enhances blood stream, endothelial perform, capillarity, vascular quantity and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle.” The Journal of physiology vol. 596,10 (2018): 1903-1917. doi:10.1113/JP275459
  3. Turci, Aline Mendonça, et al. “Self-administered stretching workouts are as efficient as motor management workouts for individuals with continual non-specific low again ache: A randomised trial.” Journal of Physiotherapy, vol. 69, no. 2, Apr. 2023, pp. 93–99, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphys.2023.02.016.
  4. Lee, Ilseok, et al. “Hamstring stretching considerably modifications the sitting biomechanics.” Worldwide Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, vol. 84, July 2021, p. 103163, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2021.103163.
  5. Montero-Marín, Jesús et al. “Efectividad de un programa de estiramientos sobre los niveles de ansiedad de los trabajadores de una plataforma logística: un estudio controlado aleatorizado” [Effectiveness of a stretching program on anxiety levels of workers in a logistic platform: a randomized controlled study]. Atencion primaria vol. 45,7 (2013): 376-83. doi:10.1016/j.aprim.2013.03.002
  6. Maciejewska-Skrendo, Agnieszka et al. “Genetics of Muscle Stiffness, Muscle Elasticity and Explosive Power.” Journal of human kinetics vol. 74 143-159. 31 Aug. 2020, doi:10.2478/hukin-2020-0027


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