Lower Body Stretches

Seated Calf Stretch

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on Seated Calf Stretch

The strong muscles of the calf can be quite tight, especially after prolonged standing or walking, and for many athletes whose sport of choice involves running or jumping.  To best stretch these muscles, grab a bolster or pillow and have a seat; start with both feet extended out in front of you with the pillow under your knees so that they’re slightly bent.  Flex your ankle back so that your toes are toward the ceiling.  Using your hand — or a belt if you can’t reach — pull back slowly on the arch or ball of your foot until a stretch is felt in the lower calf.  Hold until the stretch sensation diminishes.  Remove the pillow and repeat the stretch; this time the sensation of pull may travel all the way behind the knee. For best results, stretch one calf at a time and repeat the stretch two or three times per leg.  Be patient, as the calf muscles can take a while to relax.  Once the initial stretch sensation lessens, you can deepen the stretch by pulling back a little more on the ball of the...

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Standing Calf Stretch

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on Standing Calf Stretch

Tight calf muscles are prone to cramping: the dreaded “charlie horse” that wakes you up in the middle of the night or attacks as you move from sitting to standing.  The large muscles in the back of the lower leg are the soleus and gastrocnemius, both of which attach into the Achilles tendon and run vertically along the back of the lower leg. The soleus attaches to the lower leg bones, and the ‘gastrocs’ attach just above the knee on either side of the femur.  Because only one of these two muscles (collectively referred to as the Triceps Surae) passes the knee, to effectively stretch them both, you must stretch twice: with the knee bent to stretch the soleus, and with it flexed to stretch the gastrocs. Stand facing a wall, close enough that you can rest the ball of your foot against it while your heel stays on the ground.  Your opposite leg should be a step behind you for balance.  Place your hands against the wall and lean forward toward the wall, keeping your knee straight, until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.  Hold this position for about 30 seconds or until the stretch sensation lessens.  Slowly bend the knee by lowering your body a bit toward the ground, until a stretch is felt.  This time, the stretch sensation will be closer to the Achilles.  Hold until the sensation lessens, and then repeat on the opposite...

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Advanced Lunging Hip Stretch

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on Advanced Lunging Hip Stretch

Chronic tension in the muscles at the front and sides of the hips can contribute to low back pain and poor posture.  This stretch is particularly helpful for hip flexor contracture and ITB syndrome when combined with glute strengthening exercises.  Changing toe positions of the back foot helps target different muscle fibers for a more complete stretch! Stand in front of a chair, take a small step back with the leg you want to stretch, then place the opposite foot onto the chair so that you are standing in a lunge position with the forward leg elevated.  The toes of both feet should be facing forward.  Press your hips forward and tuck your tailbone under, increasing the stretch felt in the front of the hip of the back leg.  Hold for thirty seconds, then return to standing. Repeat the stretch again, this time with the toes of the back foot pointed out away from your midline. The stretch should be felt along the bikini line and into the inner thigh.  After 30 seconds, return to standing again and reposition the toes of the back foot pointing in toward your midline . Being careful not to lock the knee, once again place the opposite foot on the chair in front of you and press your hips forward, tucking the tailbone.  This time the stretch will be felt along the front and outside of the hip.  Release after 30 seconds and repeat all three stages on the opposite...

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V-Sit Adductor Stretch

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on V-Sit Adductor Stretch

This stretch targets the muscles of the inner thigh, which can get tight if you’re in the habit of crossing your legs, or when there’s weakness of the muscles of the buttock.  To stretch them, simply sit with your legs straight in front of you, then open your legs into a V until you feel a stretch along the inner thigh.  Bend forward at the waist to bring your torso forward toward the ground between your legs.  You may feel a pull along the back of the thigh as well as you bend forward.  Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

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Runner’s Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on Runner’s Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch

An absolute must for runners and lovers of high-heels.  Stand with feet at hip width.  While the leg you want to stretch stays in place, take a large step forward with the opposite leg, bending the knee so that it is directly above the ankle.  Lower the back leg so the knee comes toward the ground, increasing the stretch across the front of the hip and thigh.  Keep your torso straight and your tailbone tucked, so that your hands or arms are resting on your forward leg.

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Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Lower Body Stretches, Stretching 101 | Comments Off on Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Target the front of the thigh to relieve knee and low back pain.  Stand with feet just at hip width.  Bend the knee of the side you want to stretch so that your heel comes up toward your buttock.  Use a towel roll tucked behind the knee to open up the joint. Grasp the foot or ankle with the same-side hand, or use a belt or towel if you can’t reach.  If needed, rest your opposite hand on a table or chair to help maintain your balance throughout the stretch.

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