Staying flexible is important. It helps us to move easily and reduces the risk of injury from pulling muscles. It also helps us to get better results from fitness and sports training. You can get tight leg muscles for lots of reasons, including too much sitting. Doing leg stretches regularly will help to keep your muscles flexible and free from pain and injury. This short routine includes stretches for the 5 leg muscles groups that most often get tight. If possible, do the stretches every day.
Warming up for stretching
Muscles should always be warm before you stretch them. Cold muscles are less pliable and stretching them could lead to injury. Make sure your muscles are warm either from:
- Any kind of exercise that raises your heart rate, including walking
- General daily activities like house cleaning, car washing or gardening
- A warm-up routine – you can use this one
Do each stretch for 30 seconds on each leg.
The hamstring and glute stretches involve lying on your back, so a cushioned surface will be more comfortable for you. Either use an exercise mat, or a folded blanket.
#1 Calf stretch
- Stand with your feet pointing forwards, about hip distance apart, front knee bent and back leg straight.
- Press your back heel into the floor to feel the stretch on your back calf.
#2 Hip flexor stretch
- Get into the position shown, back knee on the floor, front knee bent and directly over your heel.
- Ease your back leg out behind until you feel a stretch on the muscles at the top of your back thigh.
#3 Inner thigh stretch
- Sit with your legs as wide as is comfortable for you
- Rotate your upper body towards one of your legs
- Hold onto this leg with your hands
- Slowly lean over your leg until you feel the stretch in your inner thigh and at the back of your leg
#4 Hamstring stretch
- Lie on the floor with one leg bent, foot flat on the floor. Gently pull your other leg towards you, holding onto it with both hands either on your calf or above your knee.
- Hold the position when you feel the stretch along the back of your straight leg.
If your hamstrings are very tight, you may not be able to bring your leg close enough for your arms to reach. In this case, use a band or scarf around the leg like this:
#5 Glute stretch
From the hamstring stretch position, bend your straight leg and rest your foot on the knee of the underneath leg. Hold onto your underneath leg and gently pull it towards you to feel the stretch in your top leg.
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