This is a very simple Lower Body Stretching Routine I use to maintain flexibility, help mobility work and reduce the likelihood of injury whilst partaking in resistance, HIIT and sports throughout the week. I perform a gentle period of dynamic stretching or light cardio beforehand as I try to avoid stretching when ‘cold’.
From a seated position on the floor, extend one leg out directly in front of you and rest it flat on the floor. Reach forwards towards your foot with both hands until a mildly uncomfortable stretch is felt down the back of the extended leg- hold for 20-30 seconds. Then relax and sit up for 5 seconds, before exhaling and pushing slightly further in the same stretch position, and holding this increased stretch for a further 10 seconds. Repeat process for the opposite leg.
Lay flat on the floor and bring one knee up towards your chest, then pull your heel towards the shoulder on the opposite side of your body. Bring the knee of the opposite leg up and apply pressure to the ankle- until you feel a stretch in the glute area of the adducted leg. You may wish to support the leg applying the stretching force with your arms to increase the stretch (as seen in the photo). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, increasing the stretch slightly throughout the duration. Repeat the stretch for both legs.
Seated on the floor, bring the soles of your feet together so they touch. Now with both hands pull your feet towards your body until the heels are a couple of inches from the body. With your hands on your feet apply pressure to the inside of the knees with your elbows, pushing the knees outwards and downwards towards the floor until a stretch is felt in the groin. Hold for 25-30 seconds.
4.) Hip Flexors
In an extended lunge position ensure your rear knee is behind the body not directly below it. Keeping the body upright lean the legs forward to increase the stretch on the hip flexor of the rear leg. To increase the stretch further lean your torso backward and twist away from the rear leg- you may pull on a stationary object for support and or a greatened stretch. Try to hold this stretch for 30-40 seconds before switching legs.
You can conduct this stretch in a kneeling or standing position. Holding the ankle, pull it upwards towards the buttock, whilst keeping the knees together and hips level and neutral, and the body straight and upright- you should feel a stretch throughout the quad. To increase the stretch lean the torso backward. Complete the process for both legs.
From a press up position, raise your bum slightly and place one leg across the back of the other. Straighten the working leg and drop the heel towards the floor to stretch the calf. Lower your hips to increase the stretch. Repeat for both legs.
I also incorporate erector and abdominal stretches into this routine, as I feel the hips and core really can hamper leg days and sporting performance massively.
7.) Erector Spinae
Lying flat on your back raise your knees till there is a rough right angle at your hip and knees as shown in the photo. Holding just below your knees, pull them into your chest so a stretch is felt in the lower back and hip region. Hold for 5 seconds before releasing the stretch and flattening your back for 2-3 seconds. Repeat this process 5 times through.
8.) Abdominals/Lower Back
From a press up position, lay your body on the floor whilst keeping your arms straight and looking upwards. Walk your hand towards your body to increase the stretch, and away to lessen it. Hold it for 20-30 seconds.
In a standing position with your feet just within shoulder width apart, raise your arms upwards and clasp your hands together above your head. Lean to one side and don’t allow the hips or shoulders to twist, you should feel a stretch through the outer hip and oblique region on the opposite side to the direction that you are leaning. Repeat for both sides.
Repeat this routine twice through, and aim to increase the intensity of the stretches on the second round to a safe degree.
I do this at home after leg days and sports such as football, tennis and swimming, and try to complete it at least once a day in front of the TV or when waiting for a meal to cook.
Incorporate this into your lifting routine, and see if your recovery, range of motion (squat depth and form especially) and conditioning improves accordingly.
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