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The Only 7 Leg Stretches You Need to Banish Stiffness and Improve Flexibility

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Stretching isn’t precisely probably the most glamorous or thrilling a part of anybody’s health routine, but it surely is an essential half. To maximise the time you spend getting lengthy and free, 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. We’ve carried out the leg work (pun supposed!) and narrowed it right down to the seven greatest stretches to enhance your decrease physique flexibility.

Everybody can profit from bettering their flexibility, however neglecting your decrease physique is a good way to ask ache and stiffness into your life. Some of the apparent indicators that tight muscle tissue might be inflicting points, says Andrew Peak, CPT, corrective train specialist and founding father of Storage Health club Greatness, is problem doing on a regular basis actions as a result of stiffness, equivalent to squatting down or selecting gadgets off of the ground.

“Tight leg muscle tissue also can result in poor posture and alignment, which is commonly noticeable throughout standing or strolling,” he says. This will result in hip, knee, and decrease again ache.

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

You don’t have to make stretching your prime health precedence, however you do have to stretch commonly—notably your decrease physique—to reap the advantages. If you wish to actually increase your flexibility, you may stretch every single day to see the quickest enchancment. However at minimal, the American School of Sports activities Medication says you need to stretch no less than two to a few days per week.

6 stretching advantages

These are simply a few of the expert-backed causes you need to add the under leg stretches to your health routine.

1. Improves vary of movement and suppleness

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

2. Improves athletic efficiency and reduces accidents

Analysis1 has discovered that stretching can enhance your muscle power and agility, in addition to forestall accidents. A joint with full vary of movement capabilities prefer it ought to—which implies the muscle tissue are stronger and more healthy. For greatest outcomes, specialists say to carry out dynamic stretching (lively stretches that take your joint by way 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 circulation

“Stretching the legs helps enhance blood circulation to the muscle tissue, which helps nourish the muscle tissue and permits your muscle tissue to work most effectively and successfully,” says Mendez. Due to the enhanced blood circulation2, doing leg stretches for flexibility might assist your muscle tissue get better extra effectively after train.

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4. Decreases again ache

Tight muscle tissue could cause ache and stiffness in your again. They don’t enable your backbone to maneuver prefer it ought to, which will increase your danger of accidents and muscle spasms. A 2023 research3 discovered that stretching introduced rapid and long-term ache aid for individuals who had persistent low again ache.

5. Improves posture

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

6. Alleviates stress

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

7 leg stretches for flexibility

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

“Contemplate a light-weight 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 you need to by no means really feel sharp ache. Cease the stretch in case you really feel this. “Don’t bounce whereas stretching, and be constant along with your stretching,” says Mendez.

1. The World’s Best Stretch

Mendez places the “World’s Best Stretch” on the prime of her record—and for good motive. This stretch, which is actually a lunge with a spinal twist, obtained this nickname as it’s a fabulous approach to stretch all the foremost muscle teams in your physique. This stretch is each static and dynamic, so it’s a terrific transfer to start out your stretching routine. It is 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 must be in a straight line.
  2. Step your proper foot ahead so you might be in a runner’s lunge place.
  3. Maintain your foot exterior of your palms.
  4. Twisting your torso, attain your proper arm up towards the ceiling. Maintain your left arm on the bottom. Try to be 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, retaining your foot exterior 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 approach to enhance mobility within the hips, because it will increase flexibility with each inside rotation and exterior rotation. It stretches all of the muscle tissue round your hip, together with abductors, adductors, glutes, hip flexors, and piriformis.

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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 must 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 must be pointing in the identical route.
  4. In case your knees can’t comfortably relaxation on the bottom, place a yoga block or rolled-up towel underneath the hip of your entrance leg to assist help.
  5. Maintain 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 in case you sit all day. “I 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. Elevate 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 must be straight behind you.
  4. The highest of your left foot must be resting on the bottom. Maintain your pelvis straight forward.
  5. Retaining your backbone straight and arms in entrance for assist, maintain this place for 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Deliver 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

When you’ve got sciatica or glute ache, the determine 4 stretch may also help present aid. 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 (just 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 to 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 must 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 underneath 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.
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6. Standing Quad Stretch

This transfer stretches your quadriceps muscle, which is the big 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 assist.
  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 retaining 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 underneath your foot. This stretch is useful if in case you have 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 in opposition to the wall and your left leg again.
  3. Retaining the heel of your left leg down, lean into the wall, feeling the stretch underneath 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 tissue?

Specialists6 say that some individuals are simply genetically predisposed to having tighter muscle tissue than others. Different elements additionally play a job, together with a sedentary life-style.

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

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

When is one of the best time to stretch?

“It’s helpful to stretch each earlier than your exercise and after your exercise,” says Mendez. “Dynamic stretching is greatest earlier than a exercise, whereas static stretching is greatest 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, latest, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to 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 circulation, 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 folks with persistent 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 adjustments 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 Energy.” Journal of human kinetics vol. 74 143-159. 31 Aug. 2020, doi:10.2478/hukin-2020-0027


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