Stretching Your Legs 101

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You may have seen players stretching their legs in the outfield if you have ever been to a baseball game before the start. You don’t need to be an athlete to stretch your legs or get the benefits. There are many benefits to stretching your legs, including:

Overall, fitness has improved

Increased skill in a specific sport

Relaxation has increased

Lower risk of injury

Reduction in soreness

Flexibility – Increased

Different types of stretching

Before you begin a routine, however, it is helpful to be aware of the different types of flexibility or stretches that are available.

Static stretching. The most common. This is done by stretching the muscle as far and as comfortably as possible, while holding it for at least 30 seconds. There are two types:

Active To increase the intensity of the stretch, pull or push on the muscle.

Passive You apply force to the muscle by someone else, or use something like an elastic band or towel to increase the intensity.

Dynamic stretching. It involves continuously moving to mimic a part of the sport or activity you are doing. If you are a runner, slow steps could be taken in which your knees rise to your chest and your arms pump slowly.

Ballistic stretching. These movements involve bouncing, such as dropping into a crouch then rising straight up by pressing on your feet. This will help stretch your calf muscle. They can switch between high and low speeds. Static stretching is recommended by doctors before you move to ballistic stretches.

Active isolated stretching. This can be done for 2 seconds, but you should do it for many times. You should increase the amount of stretching at each interval by just a little.

Myofascial release. This can often be done with the help of a hard foam roll. You can, for example, sit on one and place your underside, or hamstring, on top of the foam roller. You can then slowly roll the foam roller back and forth, which relieves tension and increases flexibility. Rolling should take you from 2 to 6 inches off your legs for between 30 and 60 seconds. A trainer can show you how to use a foam roller if you have never tried it before. You can also do different yoga poses to achieve the same effect.

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Leg Muscles to Stretch

Your leg has many muscles. These are some of the most common muscles that people tend to stretch or might feel tight.

Calf Commonly referred to simply as the “calf muscle”, it actually consists of two distinct muscles that are located on your lower legs. Calf muscles are responsible for flexing your leg and foot.

Hamstrings There are three hamstring muscles that run along your back. They cross your knee at the bottom and finish at your lower leg. The hamstring muscles allow you to straighten your legs and bend your knees.

Quadriceps The quadriceps are made up of four muscles. They are located in the front portion of your thigh. Quadriceps are responsible for extending the knee and flexing the thigh.

How to Stretch

Calf muscles Move your weight forward and step out with one foot in front. Keep your heel on the ground.

Hamstrings Stand on your feet and place your legs in front of you. Slowly, gently and steadily lean forward while still keeping your back straight.

Quadriceps – Stand straight and hold your right hand on to something solid, such as a chair or a stool, to balance your weight. To grab your right ankle, bend your right leg behind you.

When to stretch

Adults who aren’t injured or in rehabilitation should do stretches at least 2 to 3 times per week.

Tend to each leg muscle stretch for between 10-30 seconds

Each stretch should be repeated two- to four times

Stretch when your muscles are warm and not cold. Light aerobic activity such as walking, running or using an exercise machine can be done to warm up your muscles. You could also take a hot bath or shower. After you have completed the cardio exercise, it’s a good idea for stretching. Because your muscles are already warm, stretching can be part your cool-down.

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What Not to Do

Do not stretch if your muscles are still cold. This means that you shouldn’t stretch as soon as your muscles are cold.

These lower-body stretches can be dangerous but are very common.

While your legs are straight, bend over and touch your toes to the ground. You can put too much strain on your knees or extend your knees by doing this.

Traditional hurdler’s stretching. This involves bending or flexing your other leg while sitting on the ground. This could cause damage to your knee ligaments.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one-on-one training, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!

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