Stretching Exercises for Tight Leg Muscles

1
Overview

Couple stretching outside
Your PT can show you the best leg stretches to maintain flexibility. Oana Szekely/Getty Images

If you feel like your leg muscles are tight, you may beneift from working with a physical therapist to improve your flexibility. Your PT can show you the right exercises—like the ones in this exercise program—to help improve your overall lower extremity mobility and flexibility.

Many people suffer from tight leg muscles. A very common cause of leg tightness is due to the amount of time we spend sitting throughout the work day. As our knees are bent in this position, the muscles that flex the knee joint become used to being in this shortened position. We also tend to get a little tighter as we age and our muscles lose a bit of water content and extensibility. 

Tight leg muscles can predispose one to injury during daily and recreational activities, and it may contribute to the development of back pain, although. To prevent this, it is important to perform leg stretching exercises to loosen tight muscles.

Performing daily leg stretches is one activity that should be incorporated into your daily exercise routine. Below, several leg stretches are reviewed. These leg stretching exercises incorporate all the major muscle groups of the lower extremities.

Be sure to check in with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program.

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Hamstring Stretches

Illustration of woman stretching her hamstrings.
Your PT can show you how to effectively stretch your hamstrings.

Your hamstring muscles travel from your pelvis to the back of each knee, and then help to flex your knee and extend your hip. These muscles often get tight from sitting for long periods throughout the day 

Tight hamstrings are common. However, there are many easy exercises that can be done to increase hamstring length. Learn these four exercises and be on your way to a more limber lifestyle!

Performing a hamstring stretch routine daily can help improve the way your hamstrings move. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and be sure to relax as you stretch.

Another great stretch that you can do at work on on the go is the standing hamstring stretch. This exercise great because it can be done anywhere, so you can be sure to get a quick stretch to your hammys throughout the day.

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Quadricep Stretches

Couple stretching outside
Oana Szekely/Getty Images

Your quadriceps muscles, also known as the quads, run from the front of your pelvis, over your kneecap, and to the front of your shin. These muscles help straighten your knees.

Running, biking, and other daily activities can result in tight quadricep muscles. Learn these three easy exercises to stretch tight quadricep muscles.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and be sure to stop the stretch if your feel pain.

4
Calf Stretches

Photo of a woman stretching her calf.
You can do the runner's stretch to improve hamstring and calf flexibility. Buff spandex / Getty Images

Your calf muscles course down from behind your knee to the back of your heel. Tightness here may result in ankle and foot problems including achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

Tight calf muscles are common in most people. In women, this is often due to wearing high heel shoes (so don't sacrifice your calves for fashion). Learn this basic towel calf muscle stretch:

  1. Sit with your feet our in front of you on the floor.
  2. Hold a sheet or towel with one end in each hand forming a loop.
  3. Place the loop around one foot.
  4. Pull your toes toward you.
  5. Stop when you feel a comfortable stretch in your calf muscle.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat 9 more times.
  8. Repeat for the other foot.

Be sure to visit your PT so you can learn the best way to stretch your legs. By taking a few minutes each day to perform these basic lower extremity stretches, you can help maximize your pain free mobility.

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