If you have ever had the chance to watch athletes prepare before an event, you might have seen them engage in all sorts of leg stretching exercises. While you may be tempted to think of leg stretches as exercises performed only by athletes, you need to stretch to protect your mobility and independence, improve flexibility, and reduce tight muscles. The truth is, we all have tendencies to sit in a particular position for long periods, which can cause leg cramps, tension, and more.
Many times, truck drivers, office workers suffer from such disorders and if not corrected, could lead to severe medical conditions. Generally, it is true that a lot of people don't understand that stretching has to happen regularly, many think stretching should happen only when there are active bone or muscle troubles – this is not the case. In fact, leg stretching should be done daily.
Everyone ought to have some flexibility. Thanks to our modern-day inactive lifestyles, our flexibility is often impacted, and we find ourselves far less flexible than we could be. A regular stretching routine should be a vital part of our fitness, and it's as necessary for cardiovascular health as it is for simple flexibility. The easier it is to move, the more likely it is for people to pursue further healthy activities.
The theory of use and disuse is never more relevant than when speaking about leg stretches, and how it affects our flexibility. It needs to be done daily to reap the benefits. Think of a long road trip lasting many hours. When you arrive at your destination, the chance of climbing out of the seat and stretching is highly welcome, and to start with your movements are stiff. Trust me, you feel a lot better after stretching, and your normal mobility returns.
Imagine when this is the case each day - your flexibility would suffer badly. Therefore, you must remind yourself that your physical ability will only stay with you as long as you continue to use it.
The Leg Anatomy
You must understand the anatomy of the leg to know how to stretch it optimally. Knowing the different muscles group of the legs would help you understand where you feel most tight and which move would offer the best leg stretch.
There are three primary muscle groups found in the leg anatomy, each of which contains multiple individual muscles: the anterior, the posterior, and the lateral group. The muscles of the leg produce one of a kind actions within the ankle and foot that are vital for lots of activities like walking, running, and dancing.
It is essential to consider these muscle groups as functional units of the body, hence, their primary function must not take a back seat.
This leg muscle group is famous. They are the large muscle group that makes up the front of the thighs and is what comes to the mind of a lot of people when they hear "leg anatomy." It consists of four individual muscles, of which three starts at the top of your femur — the bone of the upper leg — and run down to your knee.
If you’re observant, you’d notice footballers limp off the pitch as a result of leg stretching too far for the ball. This occurrence is perhaps a hamstring injury. The backside upper leg anatomy is made of hamstring muscles. Just like the quadriceps, the hamstring muscle group also contains four different muscles. Additionally, there are two muscles extending down the inside part of your leg and two running down the outside.
Your inner thigh muscles or your adductors pull your leg in toward the middle of your body. Often adductors are small in size and don’t go down the entire length of your leg, although there are also large adductors that are almost as strong as other leg muscles.
The Best Leg Stretches
1. Toe Touch
Stand tall with your feet two inches apart from each other. Keep your knees completely straight and reach down toward your toes with both arms. Bend low as far down as you can and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. You can use this leg stretch to test for your overall flexibility.
2. Quad Stretch
With your feet together, stand and bend your left knee. Using your left hand, pull your left foot back such that the leg bends at the knee, sending your heel to your backside. For balance, if you need to, put one hand on a wall to keep you upright. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. This leg stretching focuses on the muscles in front of your thighs, the quadriceps, improving its flexibility. You may do resistance band exercises to get more results.
3. Butterfly Stretch
Having your legs stretched out before you while you're seated upright on the floor, slowly and gently bring your feet in placing your soles together and keeping them with your hands. At this point, you will observe that your legs have formed the butterfly "wings." Lightly press the knees down to increase the leg stretch.
It may be interesting: Top 5 Resistance Band Leg Curl Exercises
4. Hamstring Stretch
In a seated position, stretch your legs straight ahead of you with your toes pointing up, then bend from your waist toward the toes. Try curving as far as possible while maintaining the straight posture of your legs. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Release and repeat three times.
5. Calf Stretch
Standing in the front of a wall along with your forearms on it, take a lunge forward with the left leg. Maintain the position of your leg right out behind you, with the heel on the floor until you experience the stretch inside the calf muscle (back of the lower leg). You can do this for 10 to 30 seconds without bouncing. Switch sides and repeat.
It is crucial if you understood that while these are the best stretch exercises for the legs, no one stretch would address all the muscles of your legs. You should identify what you would like to achieve and select a stretch exercise suitable for it, as incorrect stretching is worse than no stretching at all. These leg stretching exercises would help keep the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. It is best if you maintain your flexibility for a range of motion as you go about your daily routine.