10 great leg stretch exercises for women
For anyone looking to improve their leg strength, flexibility, and overall health, these leg stretch exercises are the perfect place to start. While it's important to be sure her technique is correct before she starts her workout, once she has mastered the art of proper stretching, she'll feel like a new person every time she goes through one of these ten leg stretch exercises.
1. The Hip Hinge
A woman's butt may be her best friend when it comes to lifting heavy weights, but her hips can give her problems if she's not flexible enough. A proper hip hinge involves two steps: First, she has to push her hips back; then bend forward. A good way to practice is with a straight bar resting on her traps and pushing it into an overhead position. She'll know she has it right when her lower back naturally arches slightly while she bend over at the waist.
2. Glute Bridge
A woman looking to do this exercise has to lie on her back with her knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put her arms down at sides and palms facing down. Keeping abs tight and back flat, push through heels to lift hips up until she's in a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower back to start.
That's one rep. She has to do 10 reps total, alternating between 15 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. If that gets too easy over time, increase rest periods to 30 seconds or increase resistance by lifting one leg off the ground (or both). Women can also decrease work period to 10-15 seconds per set if they find themselves huffing and puffing too much!
3. Hamstring Stretch
The Standing One-Legged Hamstring Stretch is a great lower-body stretch that women can do anywhere-even while watching TV. Stand up straight, with one foot in front of and slightly behind their other foot. Keeping their back straight, bend forward at their hips until they feel a nice pull in their hamstrings. Stretch for about 30 seconds and then do a repeat while changing sides.
This stretches both legs' hamstring muscles. Don't worry if it feels impossible at first; most people need to hold onto something stable like a chair to get over the tightness (and fear) of stretching their hamstrings for the first time. Her muscles aren't used to being stretched, so give them time to adapt. Gradually increase how long she holds each stretch as her muscles loosen up!
4. Calf Raise with Straight Legs
Women should stand on a step with their feet together. Lift their heels as high as they can, then lower them as far down as they can. Straighten and lift their heels again, then lower them one at a time. Repeat ten times before changing legs. This stretch is great for encouraging flexibility in the calf muscles. Calf raise with bent knees: Starting in a standing position, lean forward slightly and place hands on shins or knees for balance if needed. Raise up onto toes and keep them pointed straight ahead throughout exercise.
Feet remain flat on floor during movement. Bend knees slightly to help increase stretch in calves; raise back up by pointing toes straight ahead to complete rep; repeat 10 times (5 times each leg). To increase difficulty, try not using hands for balance while performing calf raises. Going deeper into an ankle bend (prayer stretch): Standing upright about an arm's length away from wall or corner of room, place palms against wall at shoulder height.
5. Ankle Grab
For women, one has to stand upright, feet slightly apart. Hold her right ankle using her left hand. Gently pull her right foot towards her to stretch out her left leg. Switch legs and repeat on other side. This is a great exercise to do while watching TV or talking on a cell phone-if she can balance! It works both of her outer thighs at once, helping to strengthen them while getting rid of tightness in those joints.
6. Downward Dog
Downward dog stretches are some of the women's favorite yoga stretches to do at home. They're not too difficult to accomplish, and they really hit their core and back muscles well. Downward dog is a classic yoga pose that helps her with her alignment, flexibility, strength, and balance. It's also great for helping improve her posture and relieving any lower back pain she may have as well. Women should perform downward dog every morning to start their day off right!
7. Towel Lunge
This exercise targets her quads, hamstrings and glutes, making it great for toning and burning fat. Begin by standing with her feet together, holding a towel in front of her. She can step one foot forward, about 3 feet (1 meter) until her knee is bent at 90 degrees. Her other leg should be out behind her at an angle of 45 degrees.
She has to lower herself towards her front leg until both knees are bent to 90 degrees; then push yourself back up using her glutes and hips to return to starting position. Women need to repeat this exercise 10 times per side. This exercise can also be performed while holding dumbbells or with ankle weights attached.
8. Downward Dog with Twist in the Middle
A woman doing this exercise can bring both legs into a downward dog position and twist in one direction, making sure to keep her hips level. Hold for a few seconds before twisting back to center. Repeat three times in each direction. This is an excellent stretch to relieve soreness between her shoulder blades or any other area of her back that feels tight. Just make sure to maintain good posture throughout-it's easy to lose form when performing these moves at home because she's not being watched!
9. Mermaid Pose
Women can grab a mat or towel, and stretch it out. Lie on their backs with knees perfectly bent and their feet flat on the floor. Place one ankle at a time across the opposite knee, then slowly lower legs for a deep stretch of inner thighs and hips. Pose for nearly 30 seconds and gently switch sides. They can also loop an ankle over the opposite knee to hold position without strain. They require doing this exercise 2-3 times each side; repeat between 2-3 times daily for best results.
10. Reclining Hand-to-Foot Pose
During this exercise, women should lie on their back with their arms by your sides, palms up. She should slowly lift both legs until they're perpendicular to her torso. Hold for five breaths and release. Repeat 3-5 times as necessary. This stretch helps improve circulation in the extremities of her body - especially important since cold hands and feet can be a sign of a greater issue, such as poor circulation or even heart disease.
It also stretches muscles in our lower body that are essential for balance like those in her hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Since women use these muscles often (especially if you do high impact workouts like running or step aerobics), it's important to make sure they are flexible!
The key to staying active is not necessarily to work out harder, but to work out smarter. Remembering these 10 leg stretch exercises for women will help her do just that! Remember, it's never too late to start or quit an exercise program-especially if her health and wellbeing depend on it. If she has any concerns about starting an exercise program of her own, please consult a professional before doing so.