Thursday, March 30, 2017

5 Essential Stretches for Happy Legs

After having a meniscectomy on my left knee (after two ACLs a lifetime ago), I rehabbed and returned to running and other fitness activities a little happy camper. About a year later, that same knee became very unhappy and for the longest time, I didn't know why. I could hike, run, yoga...and then out of the blue my knee would hurt. It got so bad that I stopped running.

It took many visits with my chiropractor and an osteopath to figure out what I should have known all along: Stretching is essential for happy legs (and knees)!

The muscles in my left leg are weaker because of my knee injury and therefore work harder. Working harder causes the muscles to tighten putting a strain on my joints ---> in my case my knee feels this directly. If I take the time to stretch the muscles, the tightness is reduced and the strain removed.

If you are like me and struggling to solve a pain issue and are not stretching enough, please try these 5 Essential Stretches for Happy Legs.

Here's how they look after a warmup walk to the plaza in my neighborhood.

Quad stretch - Standing upright I pull my leg behind me with the same side hand. While pulling my foot toward my butt and keeping my knee pointed down, I focus on keeping my hips forward. It is not my goal to touch my foot to my butt, but to feel the stretch on the front of my leg.

Hamstring stretch - Standing with the leg to be stretched a little ahead of me, I keep that leg straight while bending the other knee slowly. At the same time I lean forward at the hip keeping my chest up. While in the stretch I focus on keeping my hips back ---> when I make this adjustment, I instantly feel the difference in the stretch. This stretch can also be done with the leg elevated or better yet, laying down.

Glute stretch - While standing upright, I raise one leg and pull it toward my chest with both hands. While keeping my body still and hips forward, I pull my leg across my body until I feel the stretch. I try not to allow my upper body to twist.

Hip & glute stretch (aka standing pigeon pose) - I place my ankle just above the opposite knee and then sit back slowly. I try to sink as low as I can, keep my hips square and top knee flat to increase the stretch.

Calf stretches - There are two sets of calf muscles to stretch. The first stretch is most common. While standing I step one leg back and bend forward with the other. I keep the back leg straight and the foot on the ground for the entire stretch.

The second stretch is similar. I bring the same leg in a little closer and bend the knee to feel a little different stretch.

What I'm wearing: top, capris, shoes

These are the stretches that are working for me and helped get me back in my running shoes. I do them after every workout and sometimes in the middle of a workout.

PS -Always warm up your muscles before performing any type of stretching.

PPS - I am not a doctor. I am only sharing what has worked for me personally.


  1. Those are all great stretches for our running legs. You certainly have a gorgeous view for your stretching!

    1. They've been a lifesaver for me when I do them consistently! And, yes, I'm spoiled ;)


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