Stretching is an essential part of any exercise routine. However, many people neglect or underestimate the importance of stretching. It is not only good for the body, but also for the mind. There is no better way to start or end a workout session than with a few minutes of stretching. Among all the body parts, the legs are the most neglected component when it comes to stretching. People often forget that the legs are the foundation of their bodies, and without them, their body will not be able to function properly. In this article, we will discuss the importance of leg stretching, how much time and frequency one should spend on leg stretching, and some specific stretches that can benefit the lower extremities.
How much time should you spend stretching your legs, and how often should you stretch them?
There is no one right answer to this question because it depends on the exercise or activity you have planned. However, it is important to know that stretching should be considered as an integral part of your exercise routine. It is not an optional addition, but something that should be done regularly. The more you stretch, the more flexible and relaxed your muscles become. Flexibility in your muscles allows them to move more freely, and the chances of getting injured due to stiffness are reduced.
If you are exercising every day, it is recommended that you spend 10-15 minutes stretching before and after exercise. This will help your muscles to warm up and cool down, thus lowering the risk of muscle strain or injury. If you are a beginner, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of stretching you do over time.
Leg Stretching Tips for Starters
Before discussing some specific stretches, let’s look at some tips to help you get the most out of your leg stretching routine.
1. Learn to make the most of idle moments during the day
People often think that they have to spend hours stretching their legs to make the most of it. However, it is important to know that even a few minutes of stretching scattered throughout the day can be beneficial. Try to choose a stretch that you can do while you are waiting for something, like waiting in line or watching TV. By integrating these stretches into your daily routine, you can prepare your body for activity throughout the day.
2. Use it to keep it
This means that the physical ability you currently have will stay with you longer and better if you continue to use it. Getting started or coming back from an injury can be frustrating, but it is important to be intentional about maintaining your health. Choose one stretch to complete and keep pressing on one stretch at a time until you have found several that you like and will do regularly.
3. Rest, relax, enjoy
Your body requires rest for proper rejuvenation. It is important to listen to your body and give it what it needs. The hard work you do with your stretches and exercises will go much further if you know when to stop and enjoy the benefits of your work to help avoid injury.
4 Alert your body
You need to give your body a fair ‘warning’ that you are ready to move your legs, core, and arms in a more commanding manner. As you recover, feel free to add 15 to 30 seconds to the length of each stretch. A good warm-up routine will include 10 to 15 minutes of slightly less strenuous activity than you plan to do in your workout. The goal is to alert your body that it is time to work and give it time to respond before you start your more strenuous exercise activity.
5. Decide whether to stretch before or after exercise
At least some gentle stretching and warming up should be completed prior to any physical activity. Taking a few moments to alert your body that additional activity will soon happen is essential for protecting your muscles. How much stretching you do will depend on your chosen exercise and desired level of intensity. Consider your activity when deciding whether stretching before or after your exercise activity will benefit you more. If you plan to perform in an event that will require you to be relaxed, flexible, and in control of your limbs, stretching before may help you perform at a higher level of ability. On the other hand, if you plan to simply enjoy a run in the park, you may find greater benefit from stretching after you run.
13 Leg Stretches for You to Choose
1. Foot Overlap
Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Each leg should be slightly bent. Place your left leg over your right leg. Reach your left foot just beyond your right foot and gently pull both feet toward your body. You should feel a slight pull from your feet all the way up through your right calf and left shin. Hold for a count of 10. Switch feet.
2. Ankle Circles
Make circles with your toes. To make it interesting, rotate one way for five times and then the other way for five times. You can also try alternating the rotational motion of each foot for some added practice in coordination.
3. Shin Relax
This stretch is more comfortable and effective while not wearing shoes. Stand up straight with your spine lengthened and your shoulders square with your feet and toes. Slowly swing your right leg behind you and point the toes on your right foot away from your body. The tops of your toes should rest comfortably on the floor. Gently draw your body down a few inches as you bend your left knee. You should feel a slight stretch from the tops of your toes to just below your right knee. Hold for a count of 10. Switch legs.
4. Thirsty Calf
Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Gently point all of your toes away from your body. Hold for a count of 10. Bring your left knee up until the sole of your left foot is resting flat on the floor. While sitting up straight, draw a towel, stretch band, or similar around your right foot and bring your foot toward your body. You may also choose to lean forward at the waist and use your hands to pull your toes toward you. Hold for a count of 10. Switch sides.
5. Quadricep Choice
Quad stretches should be chosen based on your comfort level and whether or not you have any knee injuries. Whether or not you choose to rest on your stomach, side, or stand will depend on your preference. Once in your preferred starting position, pull your right foot back gently to come as close to your right buttock as you can. You may choose to place a strap around your foot if you are unable to reach. Hold for a count of 10. Switch sides.
6. Hamstrings Hex
Begin in a standing position with your shoulders and hips squared. Turn your left foot so that your toes point to the left. Keep your left knee slightly bent and comfortable. Turn your upper body to the left. Bending at the waist, slowly bring your arms down to meet as far down your leg as may be …