Feeling stiff in your legs? Tight hamstrings and hip flexors? Those of us who work at the (home) office are prone to short hamstrings and hip flexor muscles if we lack sufficient exercising and stretching. This can lead to chronic hip & knee pain and makes us more prone to injuries.
To gain extra flexibility is not an overnight thing. Some people tend to be more flexible than others. Stretching is as equally crucial than exercising and most beneficial when balanced. If you work consistently on your flexibility, you will see results before you can say, Robinson Crusoe.
A lot of chronic pain is due to stiff muscles which inhibit proper alignment of the joints. Short leg muscles can even have an effect on our back and cause back pain.
If you want to get or stay fit into old age, we encourage you to spend only a few minutes a day doing exercises and stretching. You will not only feel more agile, but also you will feel less pain. Sounds great, right?
The main muscles we are focusing here are:
Flexible legs are not only something for dancers and runners. There are many benefits of stretching regarding muscle health. It doesn’t just make muscle groups more limber and relaxed but also assists in making weak muscles more reliable and increases blood supply after exercising.
How to increase ROM in your legs? With a limited ROM (due to muscle shortening) you are not able to move through life as you like. One feels impaired and cannot perform movements as usual. Injuries or even chronic pain can also occur. Proper stretching increases ROM, enabling a more natural movement pattern.
How to prevent injuries? Proper stretching can help you perform movements more correctly and feel more stable during physical activities. This can help you to be less prone to injuries. The muscles perform better, you are less tired and need less time to recover.
Brings joints into proper alignment
How to bring joints into the appropriate position? Stretching helps to correct the muscle imbalance and allows joints to move in their natural position. Shortened muscles can cause the joints to move in the ‘wrong’ place and in the worst case cause pain. It can also occur that surrounding tissue deteriorates to some degree if joints are ‘out of place’.
Leg Flexibility Exercises
Follow us on your little sequence for leg flexibility. If anything is unclear, please take your time to refer to a physiotherapist or health professional.
Golden Rule for Joint Safety: Make sure to feel the stretch in your muscles and not your joints.
Come down to your yoga mat (preferably a thick one for knee protection) on your knees. Step your right foot in front of you. Make sure your right knee does not surpass your toes. Keep your hips square, engage your core and lift your arms overhead. Lower your hips and feel a gentle stretch in your hips flexors. Make deep breaths and try to maintain this position up to 2 minutes. Go with the breath and on your exhales try to go even deeper into the stretch. Always listen to your body. When you’re ready, slowly come back to your starting position and step your left leg forward.
Come down to your mat and take a lotus seat. Bring the palms of your feet together in front of yours. If you feel like wanting your knees supported, please use a yoga bolster, pillow, yoga block or book for assistance underneath. This exercise is targeting the inner thighs. Make sure your spine is straight, your shoulders are drawn back and away from the ears and your core engaged. Slightly lean forward and press your hands into your thighs. Go with your breath and make sure to feel the stretch in your muscles. Take 2 minutes here.
Come down to all fours on your mat. Spread your fingers wide and press into your fingertips. Draw your shoulders back and away from the ears. Rotate your elbows inward as far as you can and keep them there the entire exercise. Lift your hips and slowly come into a downward-facing dog. Keep your knees bent at the beginning. Pay attention to the alignment of your feet as well. They should be pointing straight forward. Slowly ‘walk on the spot’. Always got with the breath. Try to hold/walk for 2 minutes.
Stand upright about hip-width apart. Tilt your hips forward, engage your core and keep your spine straight. When you found your balance, lift your right foot, grab it with your hand and press the heel towards the buttock. You should feel a gentle stretch in your quadriceps. Do not compromise your alignment here. Take some beautiful breaths and try to hold this position for 1 minute straight. To modify, hold on to a chair, wall or any steady object. When you are ready, switch to the other leg.
Lying Leg Stretch
Lie down on your mat on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Make sure to maintain a straight spine the entire exercise and do not overarch in your lower back. Grab your right leg with your hands and try to extend the leg. No worries, if a full extension is not possible, then just slightly keep your knee bent. Pull your leg towards your chest and feel a gentle release in your hamstrings and back of your leg. Feel the stretch in your muscles and not in the back of your knees. Hold the position for 2 minutes and switch sides.
Feeling tightness in the back of your knees? If you are someone who suffers from hip and knee pain, stretching your legs can have a massive impact on your wellbeing. To the better!