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Helpful Stretches to Combat Stiff Legs from Your Friendly Physical Therapist

September 26, 2018

More and more, people are sitting down for long periods of time, leading to an increase in the prevalence of stiff legs. This unfortunate condition can often be the result of inactivity, which has become more common in a world that is primarily focused on digital activities. Our work has a greater percentage of stationary actions and, in general, we could all use a bit more physical exercise and motion as a way to improve our health. One useful and productive action to take is to continually stretch our legs as a way to prevent overly stiff legs. Here are a few helpful leg stretches from your Parker Physical therapist.

Calf Stretch

Your calf muscle is located at the lower back part of your leg, and plays a role in determining how far forward or backwards your foot is able to bend. One way to keep your calf from cramping and restricting your mobility is to perform regular calf stretches. A very common calf stretch involves keeping both feet flat on the floor with one foot in front of the other. Bend the forward leg with your hands on the wall while keeping your back knee straight. Lean forward on to your front knee in order to stretch your back leg and hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. 

Perform this stretch on both legs for a full, balanced stretch. Calf muscles are a critical component for any physical activity which involves your legs, as they provide your legs with more power and allow your legs to move faster with stronger muscles. Weak calf muscles leave an individual prone to injury, such as achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and even plantar fasciitis, which can certainly incapacitate you from activities such as running. A pulled calf muscle is an incredibly common injury which can show up in the form of mild swelling, bruising, or even an inability to stand on the ball of your feet. Utilize proper calf stretching as a way to reduce the possibility of experiencing such an issue. 

Simple Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings are located in the back of your thigh and is used for bending or flexing your knee. Tight hamstrings are incredibly common occurrence and can be prevented by performing consistent stretch exercises. A person is also able to improve and increase their overall mobility with regular maintenance. If you have stiff hamstrings or are dealing with lower back pain or sciatica, consider performing a simple hamstring stretch as a way to reduce these feelings.

In order to perform a simple hamstring stretch, sit on the floor with both legs straight. Extend your arms forward by reaching in front of you, bending your body at the waist as far as you can while continuing to keep your legs straight. Once you cannot move forward any further, hold the stretch for anywhere from 15-30 seconds. Rest and then repeat the stretch at least another two times. You should not feel any excessive pain from this activity, and if you do you should halt the exercise immediately.

Simple Quad Stretch

Your quadricep muscles are made up of four different muscles: the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, the vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris. This particular muscle group has a primary function of helping with your knee motion and are involved in practically every movement of your leg, as they work alongside other leg muscles to promote healthy and effective movements. Our quadriceps often become tight, painful, and inflamed and can lead to knee pain if not properly addressed.

A simple quad stretch can be an easy and effective way to help address issues with this specific muscle group, regardless of where you are. To perform a simple quad stretch, stand on one leg and with the interior of both knees touching each other. Grab your foot from the leg you are not standing on and pull it towards your butt, making sure that you keep your chest pushed up and have your hips forward. When you begin to feel a strong stretch, hold it for around 20-30 seconds before performing the same stretch on the other leg. 

Seated Spinal Twist

The glute muscles are located in your butt and are absolutely critical to healthy leg function. If you’r someone who spends an excessive amount of time sitting throughout the day, stretching your glute muscles is important for reducing tightness as well as preventing further injury. Issues such as knee injuries and lower back pain can result from glute muscles which are not properly stretched. One way to address this concern is to perform a seated spinal twist stretch.

To perform a seated spinal twist, begin seated, preferably on a mat, with your legs extended straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring it over your left leg, moving your right heel as close to your left sit-bone as you can. Move your right arm behind you and place your fingertips on the floor. Bring your left hand to your right knee or thigh and use it to pull your knee to the left until you feel a stretch in your glutes. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds before you release it and repeat the stretch on your left side. 

If you looking to improve your physical health situation and are in need of physical therapy, or are interested in receiving a functional movement screening, contact Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness today and we will be happy to assist you with your first steps towards recovery. We have an extensive team of qualified physical therapists and specialists who care deeply about their clients and go above and beyond the call of duty to provide the highest quality treatment in the industry. If you are looking for a therapist who will carefully assess your individual needs and formulate a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your needs, Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness is your preferred choice for the physical recovery process.