Stretching Exercises for Tight Leg Muscles

If you feel like your leg muscles are tight, you may benefit from working with a physical therapist to improve your flexibility. Your PT can show you the right exercises you can do 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.


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Tight leg muscles can predispose us to injury during daily and recreational activities, and may even contribute to the development of back pain in some cases. 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.

Hamstring Stretches

Hamstring Stretch & Calf Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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 is great because it can be done anywhere, so you can be sure to get a quick stretch to your hammies throughout the day.

Quadricep Stretches

Standing quad stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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 you feel pain. The stretches can be performed several times each day.

Calf Stretches

Calf stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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 may be due to wearing high heel shoes (so don't sacrifice your calves for fashion).

Sometimes, people are just generally a little tighter in their muscles. Stretching your calf muscles is easy. The basic towel calf muscle stretch can be done just about anywhere:

  1. Sit with your feet out 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 at least 2 more times.
  8. Repeat for the other foot.

You can also perform the classic runner's stretch for your calf muscles. Simply place both hands on a wall, and leave your heels on the ground as you lean towards the wall. You should feel a slight stretch behind your lower legs.

Working to keep your legs moving freely and fully can help you feel better about yourself, and it may help to prevent injuries. 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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Article Sources
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