Have you ever strained your back picking up something heavy? Have you ever had a hamstring strain after running? It could be because of a flexibility issue.
Flexibility is important for a wide range of daily activities, from as simple as putting on your shoes to dynamic movements like performing a toe-touch in cheerleading. Building a habit of daily or even weekly stretching can prevent many exercise-related injuries. Routine stretching can also help provide joint lubrication, help relieve post-exercise aches and pains, improve range of motion, and improve balance and posture.
In this blog, I will explain five simple and easy lower extremity stretches that you can add to your daily routine:
- Standing hamstring stretch – Find a step or a stool and place the heel of your foot on it. The key to isolating your hamstrings is to make sure you don’t round your lower back and put your hamstrings on a slack. I like to tell my patients to cross their arms in front of their chest, keep their chest up, and lean forward. Hold for 30 seconds 3 times on each leg.
- Standing calf stretch – Tight calves can cause other injuries like plantar fasciitis, and to avoid them a calf stretch is a good alternative. Place your foot on a wedge or place your toes on a step. Keep your heel on the ground, keep your knee extended, and lean forward.
- Soleus – Your soleus sits behind your calf muscle and can still be a source of some pain. Find a wedge or place your toes on a step. Keep your heel on the ground, keep your knee flexed, and lean forward.
- Dragon – This exercise can prevent or help hip flexor or groin strains. Start in a lunge position and lower one knee to the floor. Keep your chest up and shift your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Do this on both sides and hold the position for 30 seconds 3 times each.
- Butterfly – This exercise can also prevent a groin strain. Sit on the floor and place the soles of your feet together. To deepen this stretch, pull your feet closer to your hips. You can let gravity pull your knees toward the ground, or you can gently use your hands and press your knees towards the floor. Make sure you sit nice and tall. Hold this stretch for 1 minute.
I hope this helps you! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our team at Jones Physical Therapy!
Shakyra Cooper, PT, DPT