Stretches for the Lower Body

Stretches are a good way to start a work out session as it prepares the body for movement, increasing flexibility and helps prevent injury. Always remain within the comfortable stretch zone even if you would like to increase your flexibility. It is safer to under stretch than to overstretch. If you feel any pain or discomfort at any stage of the stretch then stop the stretch immediately.

This page outlines lower body stretches (hips to ankles). To stretch your upper body click here. As with all the stretches, you should aim to hold a stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds before releasing. Remember to breathe.

diagram of stretching hips before walkingHip Flex Stretch
This is a very good stretch for the hip joints if you wish to perform squats in a workout:

  • Start by standing upright
  • Take a long, single stride with your right leg
  • Slowly lower your upper body by bending your right leg
  • The weight should be on your right leg
  • Place your hands on your right knee whilst bend your right leg
  • The left leg should be stretched out straight behind
  • Switch legs

If you have any problems with your knees or knee joints, do not attempt this stretch.

Diagram of stretching groin area warm upGroin Stretch
This is an easy stretch to do for warming up the groin area before any weight loss exercise. It is important to warm up this area as any injury to the groin can be painful:
Sit on the ground

  • Draw your feet in towards your body, causing your knees to bend outwards
  • Depending on your flexibility, your knees may be high up in the air or fairly close to the ground
  • Hold onto your ankles and rest your elbows on the inside of your knees/ thighs
  • Gently use your elbows to press your knees towards the ground

diagram of alternate stretch hamstring before exercisingHamstring Stretch
This stretch targets the hamstring muscles which are located at the back of the thighs. It is important if you intend to run as exercise:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent, your feet together and flat on the floor
  • Lift up your right leg, perpendicular to the floor
  • Use both hands to grab the thigh to support the leg
  • Try to straighten the leg, slowly locking the knee joint
  • Slowly pull the leg further towards your head
  • Switch legs

diagram Stretching thighs for walkingThigh (Quadriceps) Stretch
This stretch helps loosen up the knee joint and is often used to help people with knee problems:

  • Stand near a wall or secure structure for support
  • Steady yourself with the right hand against the wall or structure
  • Lift the right foot behind your back and grab it with the left hand
  • Stand straight with the thighs vertical and gently push the foot further towards the lower back towards the buttocks
  • Swap sides

diagram of stretch lower leg calf muscles walkingCalf Muscles Stretch
The basic calf stretch is ideal for loosening up the lower legs ready for a run or walk:

  • Stand a little bit more than arms lengths distance away, facing a wall
  • Legs should be hip width apart, feet pointing forwards towards the wall
  • Lean in towards the wall with your arms outstretch
  • Begin to lower your heels towards to ground
  • If you require more stretch you can start to bend your arms slightly, keeping your feet on the ground

If you need more support, you can do one leg at a time by keeping one foot in front and the other stretched out behind, to keep you balanced.

diagram of stretching ankle for walking exerciseAnkle Joint Stretch
This is less of a stretch and more of a movement to help loosen up the ankle joint:

  • Sit down on a comfortable, sturdy chair
  • Lift the right leg up with the knee pointing outwards
  • Hold the leg with your right hand just above the ankle joint
  • Hold the bottom of your right foot firmly with the left hand
  • Pull the foot slowly towards your stomach area while relaxing the right ankle joint and foot
  • Now gently push the foot the opposite way
  • Now rotate the ankle around clockwise in a slow and gentle manner, and then anti-clockwise
  • Repeat for the left ankle joint

diagram of Stretching buttocks warm upButtock Stretch
This stretch loosens the buttocks, lower back muscles and hamstrings. Try to relax all leg and back muscles and this stretch will feel easier:

  • Lie down on your back
  • Gently pull your left leg towards your chest
  • Keep the right leg straight
  • Grasp your hands together and hold the knee
  • Repeat for the right leg
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