11 Leg Stretches That’ll Ease Your Tightest Muscles: Just got back from a leg day workout? Even though heavy squats and deadlifts can make you feel great, they’ll probably cost you a lot later on when your muscles hurt.
That’s why you should stretch your legs. As a 200-hour yoga teacher, I often tell my students that stretching can help ease the severe pain that makes it hard to walk downstairs after leg day.
11 Leg Stretches That’ll Ease Your Tightest Muscles
- Stretching can also make you more flexible, which can help you avoid getting hurt the next time you lift. Plus, stretching right after a hard workout helps lower your heart rate and calm you down.
- It’s best to do these leg stretches right after working out your legs. Do these stretches for your legs, glutes, quads, calves, shins, hips, and lower back after you finish that last rep.
- Take off your shoes and roll out your yoga mat. They will feel great, even if you only have a short time.
- The best part? If you work out, you don’t have to wait to do these leg stretches. Do them when you need to heal, before bed, or whenever you feel tight. Just do a few of your best calf, hamstring, and quad stretches, or do all 11 to keep your muscles loose.
Hip and Lower Back Stretch: Extended Wide Squat
- Spread your feet out a little wider than your hips. You should bend your knees and bring your hips down to the ground. Cover your heels with a towel or the back of your mat and roll it up. Then, put it under your heels to support them.
- Close your eyes and press your elbows hard into the inside of your knees. Bring your hands together in the middle of your chest. This will help your hips open up even more.
- Let your hands fall to the floor and move them away from your feet after five breaths to make the stretch in your hips and lower back stronger. Hold for five more breaths.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch: Downward Dog
- Get down on your knees with your palms under your shoulders and your feet about hip-width apart.
- To get into the standard upside-down-V shape called Downward Dog, lift your hips off the ground.
- Try to bring your heels closer and closer to the floor as you take five deep breaths.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch: Tip-Toe 3-Legged Dog
- Step your feet closer together so that your big toes touch. Then lift your right leg into the air and land on your left toes.
- Hold for five breaths, and then do it again on the other side.
Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch: Low Crescent Lunge
- Do a low lunge with your right knee facing forward.
- As you breathe in, lift your arms up and lower your pelvis to the floor to make the stretch in your hips stronger. You can also put your hands on your hips if that feels better.
- Take five deep breaths and enjoy this stretch. Then do it again on the left side.
Hip and Quad Stretch: Open Lizard
- Do a lunge move with your right knee facing forward. Bring your left knee down to the ground and put your hands under your shoulders.
- To rest on the outside of your bent right foot, slowly move your right knee to the right. To make the stretch deeper, keep your arms straight and push your chest forward.
- Hold this position for five breaths, and then do it again on the other side.
Hamstring Stretch: Lifted Head to Knee
- Get on your knees and stretch out your right leg in front of you.
- Hold this stretch for five deep breaths as you fold forward over your stretched leg.
- Do it again on the other side.
Hamstring Stretch: Head to Knee
- Lay down on the ground and stretch your legs out in front of you. Bend your left knee and press the bottom of your left foot against the inside of your right leg.
- Put your right foot out in front of you and stack your upper body on top of your right leg. Sit up straight. Put your hands on your shin or knee if you can’t reach your foot. Do your best not to arch your back.
- Keep your shoulders back and away from your ears for at least five breaths. Do it again on the other side.
Hamstring and Lower Back Stretch: Seated Straddle
- Place your feet three to four feet apart, but don’t make them too far apart. With your right hand, move the fat on your right bum cheek away from you. Then, do the same thing with your left hand.
- This will make the ground beneath your hips stronger, which will help you stretch your hamstrings better.
- Lift your head off your hips and sit up straight. Pull your belly and ribs in. Once you start to fold forward, keep that length. Slide your hands down your legs or on the floor in front of your head.
- You only need to go down as far as it hurts to feel your legs stretch.
- Take five deep breaths in and out. Then move your hands to your right leg and hold there for five more breaths. Do this again with your left leg.
Hip and Lower Back Stretch: Butterfly
- Get down on the ground, bend both knees, and bring your feet together. Open your feet up like a book with your hands. Lift your knees up off the ground and press them down toward the floor.
- Draw your belly button in and lengthen your spine. Take your mind off of things and look either in front of you or at your feet. Hold this pose for five breaths, and then slowly fold forward and bring your body toward your legs. Don’t forget to keep your back straight.
- Put your hands on your feet and press down on your knees with your arms. If you want a deeper stretch, hold your arms out in front of you. Hold on for five more breaths.
Hip Stretch: Double Pigeon
- Lay down on the ground and stretch your legs out in front of you. Stand with your left foot, shin, and knee on the floor so they are all straight across from your hip. Bend your left knee. Step one: Bend your right knee and put it on top of your left knee.
- This will stack your knees, shins, and feet. When you look down, you’ll see that your legs are forming a triangle. That means you’re doing it right.
- It’s fine if your top knee is up high, facing the sky. It only means your hips are tight, so take a deep breath and stay put.
- Put your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can while rolling your chest toward your legs. This will make the pose more difficult.
- Hold this pose for five deep breaths, then slowly let go. Do it again on the other side.
Inner Thigh Stretch: Side Lunge
- Spread your feet about four feet apart and stand up straight.
- You should bend your right leg and do a low side lunge.
- Either fold over your left leg or keep your body between your legs.
- Hold this position for five deep breaths, and then do it again on the other side.