Great Stretches for the Lower Body

Stretching is an important part of any workout routine, but it's one part many of us skip on a regular basis.  You may think it doesn't do much for you and feel like you're wasting precious time you could be spending on the real workout -- the cardio and strength training. 

However, your recovery is just as important as the actual workout and stretching not only helps bring your body back to where it was before your workout and increases flexibility, it's relaxing.  Below are my absolute favorite lower body stretches.  Do these after any workout and you won't regret it.


See your doctor if you have any injuries, illnesses or other medical conditions.

Equipment Needed

An exercise mat or just the floor

How to

Perform each exercise as shown, holding each one for 15-30 seconds, repeating 1-3 times.  Avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort.

Figure 4 Hip Stretch

Figure 4 Hip Stretch. Paige Waehner

Lying on the floor, cross left  foot over right knee.  Clasp hands behind right thigh and gently pull the leg in towards you, keeping upper body relaxed.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

If your hips are tight, you might feel enough of a stretch without even lifting the leg off the floor.

Hamstring Stretch

Lying Hamstring Stretch. Paige Waehner

Lie on the floor with the knees bent and lift the right leg up, grabbing it at the calf, ankle or wherever you can reach.  Flex the foot and gently pull the leg towards you to feel a stretch in the hamstrings.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

If you feel shaky or your hamstrings are tight, try using a resistance band to give you more leverage.

Inner Thigh Stretch

Inner Thigh Stretch. Paige Waehner

Sit on floor, torso straight and tall.  Bring the feet together in front of your knees, bent and out to the sides, and grab onto both feet.  Keeping the back straight, gentle pull forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your inner thighs.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.

Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch

Hip Flexor Lunge Stretch. Paige Waehner

Get into a lunge position on the floor, right foot forward and left knee back, both knees at about 90 degrees.  Keeping the torso straight and abs engaged, lunge forward, gently pressing until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip.  You can also squeeze the glutes for a deeper stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch. Paige Waehner

I love this move, especially moving from the lunge stretch above.  From that lunge position, you simply move back, putting your weight on the left knee while straightening your right leg.  Bend forward at the hip, keeping back flat until you feel a gentle pull in the back of the leg. You may need to keep a slight bend in the knee if your hamstrings are tights.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

Pigeon Stretch

Pigeon Stretch. Paige Waehner

Begin on the hands and knees and bring the left knee in, resting it on the floor between your hands (you should be on the outside of the knee).  Straighten the right leg out behind you and, if you can, bend forward and rest the forearms on the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

Crossover Knee to Chest

Crossover Knee to Chest. Paige Waehner

This stretch is great for targeting the hips, iliotibial band and the lower back. The key to this move is to bring the knee across the body, just a few inches, while keeping both hips down. Begin by lying down and bringing the right knee in towards the chest.  Keeping hips on the floor, gently pull the right knee a few inches across the body, towards the left shoulder.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

Kneeling Calf Stretch

Kneeling Calf Stretch. Paige Waehner

Kneel on the floor and bring the left foot forward between the hands. Gently press your body forward while pressing the heel towards the floor, feeling a stretch in the calf.  Don't worry about getting the hell on the floor, just press forward until you feel a gentle stretch.Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

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IT Band Stretch

IT Band Stretch. Paige Waehner

I love this stretch for the iliotibial band, a ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh, connecting to the knee.  Start by crossing the left foot behind the right.  Take the left arm up and gently lean to the right, pressing the hip out to feel a stretch down your outer thigh. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

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Lying Quad Stretch

Lying Quad Stretch
Lying Quad Stretch. Paige Waehner

Lie down on your side using your elbow for balance.  Using your other arm, slowly pull your foot towards your glutes, keeping both knees together and bent knee pointing down. Squeeze the glutes to get a deeper stretch in the quads.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.

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