10 Leg Stretches for Increased Flexibility
Considering how much our legs do for us every day, it's no surprise that many of us are stricken with muscle tension. When this happens, it can be difficult to sit, stand, and walk. You can relieve this tightness by performing leg stretches regularly. The most common culprit of tight legs is sitting for prolonged […]

Considering how much our legs do for us every day, it's no surprise that many of us are stricken with muscle tension.

When this happens, it can be difficult to sit, stand, and walk. You can relieve this tightness by performing leg stretches regularly.

The most common culprit of tight legs is sitting for prolonged periods of time, which causes muscles to shorten, according to Leada malek, DPT, CSCS, a certified sports specialist based in San Francisco, California.

But crushing a strenuous leg workout can also lead to a feeling of tightness - or even discomfort and pain - as your muscles recover.

This is why stretching is crucial.

“The flexibility of muscles is important for their function,” Malek explains.

And leg stretches can help restore short, tense muscles to their full functional length, allowing them to move with a healthy range of motion.

Relieve tension, discomfort, and pain with these expert-approved leg stretches.

1. Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Stretch the hip flexors after long periods of sitting with this movement.

  • Start in a semi-kneeling position.
  • Gently tuck in your tailbone and squeeze your back glute. Keeping your tailbone tucked in, gently rock forward until you feel a stretch in your rear quad.
  • Hold the position for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

2. Seated hamstring stretch

Give tight hamstrings love with a simple movement you can do right at your desk.

  • Sit well and extend one leg in front of you, keeping a slight flexion of the knee.
  • With a neutral spine, lean forward at the hips until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings of the extended leg.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Man doing hamstring stretch at home

3. Deadlift

“Yes, this is traditionally a strength movement, but the deadlift is one of the best ways to increase the stretch of your posterior chain,” says Blake Dircksen, DPT, CSCS, physiotherapist at Tailor-made treatments At New York.

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping the chest up and a slight flexion of the knees, pivot forward at the hips to push back your buttocks. Extend your hands towards your toes until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Reverse the movement. Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips. Repeat.
  • Perform 25 to 30 repetitions. Add a pair of light dumbbells if you like.

4. 90/90 Shin Box Stretch

Improve hip mobility with this stretch, which works both internal and external hip rotation.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your hands flat on the floor behind you.
  • Keeping your feet in contact with the ground, move both knees to the right to rest both shins on the ground. Hold briefly before bringing your knees back to center and moving them to the left.
  • Continue to alternate for 30 to 60 seconds.

Woman runner doing quad stretch while standing

5. Standing quad stretch

This simple stretch targets your quadriceps and hip flexors, Malek explains.

  • Stand up straight. Shift your weight onto one foot and bring the opposite heel towards your buttocks.
  • Grab your ankle and press your knee against the inside of your thigh. Slightly tuck your tailbone in and gently pull on your foot to bring your knee back. You should feel a good stretch in your quad.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat with the opposite leg. Stand on a chair for balance if necessary.

6. Supine piriformis stretch

When the piriformis (a small muscle deep in your glutes) becomes tense, you may feel tingling or numbness in your leg, Malek says. Stretch it with this simple movement.

  • Lie on your back with both legs extended.
  • Bring your knee to your chest. Without lifting your head or shoulders off the ground, use your opposite hand to gently pull your knee over the midline of your body. You should feel a slight stretch in your glutes and lower back.
  • Hold the position for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

7. The largest expanse in the world

This movement stretches the muscles of the legs in the posterior chain (the back of your body), says Dircksen.

  • Start with a straight arm plank with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Step your left foot outward with your left hand.
  • Tap your left elbow against the inside of your left foot, calf or knee (this will depend on your mobility). Then rotate your torso to extend your left arm above the head, reaching your fingers towards the ceiling. Follow with your gaze.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the plank. Repeat on the opposite side.

8. Runner's stretch

Relieve stiff calves and ankles caused by long periods of walking and running with this classic stretch.

  • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping both legs straight, step back one foot slightly to be in an offset position. Press your back heel into the ground to feel your calf stretch.
  • From this position, bend your back knee. Try to keep your back heel pressed into the ground to stretch the lower part of your calf.
  • Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

9. Frogger Stretch

This movement stretches the adductors of the hip and improves mobility in the hip capsule. “This movement should be done slowly and gently,” Dircksen says. "No pain is allowed here."

  • Start on all fours with your hands below the shoulders and knees below the hips.
  • From there, spread your knees as wide as possible and let your feet spread outward. Fold your hands under your forehead and relax your upper body.
  • Lower your hips back to the floor and gently rock back. Stop when you feel the tension and rock forward again.
  • Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

10. Sumo Stretch

Malek recommends this movement to stretch the hips and groin at their tips, which helps you maintain full hip mobility.

  • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing outward at 45 degrees.
  • Immerse yourself in a deep squat, keeping your spine high and your heels low. Press your elbows against your knees to gently spread your thighs apart.
  • Take a few deep breaths.

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