Alleviate Soreness with These 11 Leg Stretches

Alleviate Soreness with These 11 Leg Stretches

Stretching is an essential component of working out, because it can help prevent muscle soreness and injury. Stretching your body, especially your legs, can help you warm your body before a dynamic workout and can alleviate stiffness following said workout.

When you are about to workout, “[it is important to] save the more passive stretches for after a workout and do the more active [stretches] for beforehand,” says Traci Bennett, a functional range conditioning mobility specialist with Vital Roots Movement in Colorado and a Kinstretch instructor.

Get stretching with Openfit’s Yoga52 program! Try it out for free today.

Our legs do a lot of for us. They get us from point A to point B and allow us to partake in some of the craziest exercise regimes. But when they get sore, they make walking feel like a chore.

Let’s alleviate soreness before it starts with these 11 leg stretches recommended by 200-RYT Yoga Teacher Trainer Chelsea Rose (Boulder, Colo). Rose also has experience training in barre, indoor cycling, and aerial yoga, so we are confident these stretches will help prepare you for any workout.

 

wind relieving pose- leg stretches

1. 1/2 Wind Removing Pose (Pavanamuktasana)

This single-leg pose will help to stretch the glutes, offer compression to the hip joints, and can aid in digestion as well.

  • Start by lying on your back with your legs extended long and your hands relaxed at your side.
  • Pull your right knee to your chest and interlace your fingers over your right shin.
  • With your knee into your chest, begin to draw your knee toward your right armpit. This move will allow more space for your breath and works to open up your hip.
  • Flex your left foot to help anchor your spine toward your mat.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

reclined figure four- leg stretches

2. Reclined 1/2 Pigeon

Also known as Reclined Figure Four, this pose helps stretch the outer hip and inner thighs.

  • From lying on the mat, bend your legs and stack your knees over your ankles.
  • Lift your right foot and rest your right foot on top of your left knee. Externally rotate your right thigh to deepen your stretch.
  • Relax your hands by your sides or interlace your fingers behind your left thigh and press your right elbow into your right knee for a deeper hip stretch. Lift your left foot away from the floor.
  • Keep the right foot flexed with your toes spread and active through the heel to help protect your knee. “When you actively flex your ankle, you are positioning your foot as if you were standing on the ground,” explains Rose. “and, therefore, will be keeping the knee in a place.”
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

3. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

The Reclined Spinal Twist will open the muscles in your back, stretch your hips, and chest.

  • From reclined figure four, work your left knee and hip to the floor. Keep your right leg in the figure four shape, but rest your right knee on the mat.
  • Draw your right shoulder to the floor and align your hips. Feel the twist from your mid-back. Option to gaze over your right shoulder to complete the twist.
  • You can also extend your left leg long on the floor for a deeper stretch.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

4. Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)

A staple posture in many yoga classes, Reclined Butterfly helps to open your inner thighs and hips.

  • Lie on your back and bend both knees to rest your feet flat on the floor.
  • Draw the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to the sides (like an open book).
  • Rest your knees on blocks, blankets, or pillows if your hips are tight and your knees don’t touch the floor.
  • Option to rest one hand on your heart and the other hand on your bellow to relax to your steady breath and beating heart.

Windshield Wiper

5. Reclined Windshield Wiper Pose (Supta Sucirandhrasana)

As a counterpose to the previous four postures, Reclined Windshield Wiper Pose is a dynamic pose that targets the outer hips, inner thighs, and low back, while adding mobility to your hip joints.

  • From Reclined Butterfly pose, use your hands on your outer thighs to gently bring your legs back together with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Move your feet so that they are hip’s width distance apart.
  • With hands down by your hips or out to the sides in a T-shape, begin to sway your legs side-to-side (like windshield wipers) with both knees going in the same direction at the same time.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

 

6. Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)

Fire Log Pose is a seated posture that is considered a very intense hip opener; if your hips are tight, sit on the edge of a rolled-up blanket or pillow.

  • Begin in a regular crossed-legged seated position on the mat with your right foot in front.
  • Bring your right foot on top of your left knee. Keep your feet flexed with toes spread wide.
  • This position might be enough for some people; if you want a deeper stretch, slide your bottom foot so that it moves under the right knee. You are aiming to have your shins aligned.
  • To deepen the stretch, lean your torso forward and walk your hands in front of your knees. Aim to lengthen your spine rather than round it forward.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

low lunge- leg stretches

7. Low Lunge Variation (Anjaneyasana)

Low Lunge is a crucial stretching exercise for sore legs as it stretches your iliopsoas, rectus femoris muscle, and sartorius muscle.

  • After the seated Fire Log pose, move through tabletop position to step your right foot in between your hands.
  • Keep your right knee over your ankle or slightly behind (avoid hyperextension). Leave your back knee on the mat for this variation of the stretch.
  • Next, bend your back knee and reach toward your foot to grab it. You can grab your foot with the same hand and the same foot to open up the front shoulder; the opposite hand and foot will offer more of a spinal twist.
  • If you can’t reach with your hand, use a towel or strap wrapped over the top of your foot and grab onto that.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

leg stretches- high lunge

8. High Lunge (Crescent Lunge)

The High Lunge is a leg stretch that stretches similar muscles as the Low Lunge.

  • From Low Lunge, lift your back leg away from the mat. Push firmly into your front foot to lift your hips higher toward the ceiling.
  • You have the option to bring your arms overhead or leave your hands on two blocks on either side of your hips.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

9. Half Split (Ardha Hanumanasana)

Your half split is gentler than full splits to stretch your hamstrings.

  • From High Lunge, rest your back knee on the mat. Shift your weight back so that your hips are over your back knee. Extend your front leg.
  • Rest your hands on the mat or balance on blocks if your hamstrings are very tight.
  • Lengthen your back and gaze down.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

 

side lunge- leg stretches

10. Side Lunge

The Side Lunge leg stretch is another dynamic stretch to help target your inner thighs.

  • Start in a wide-legged stance with your body parallel to the long edge or side of your mat. Parallel your feet.
  • From the standing wide-legged position, bend your right knee and lengthen your left leg. Sit your hips back and hinge your torso forward.
  • Your left knee is bent to 90 degrees to protect your knee joints.
  • You have the option to rest your hands on a block to bring the floor closer to your body.
  • Move back and forward between sides for 5-10 breaths.

 

wide legged forward bend- leg stretches

11. Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Another leg stretch is the Wide-Legged Forward Fold, which gets you upside down while stretching your hamstrings and glutes.

  • From the Side Lunge, shift your weight, so you are standing evenly on both feet.
  • Bring your arms out to a T-shape. Hinge forward at your hips. Once your chest aligns with your hips, drop your hands straight down to the floor or your blocks.
  • As you fold over, aim for a strong and long spine rather than rounded back.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths.
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About

Mattie Schuler is an adventure journalist who specializes on the outdoor industry, gear reviews, adventure sports, fitness and health, yoga, and travel. She currently resides in Boulder, Colorado. She has written hundreds of stories for numerous publications including Gore-Tex, Gear Junkie, Outside, Backpacker, Yoga Journal, Gore-Tex, Men's Journal, and Men's Fitness. In her free time, you can find Mattie hiking, camping, snowboarding, trail running, and practicing yoga. Follow her on Twitter.