Let’s face it–we are spending more time sitting, and all of that sitting shortens our muscles. So does certain forms of exercise, specifically resistance training and cycling, indoors, or outdoors. This is concentric (short muscle) movement, so you need to counter that with eccentric (long muscle) movement. In my Functional Essentrics ABC: Aging Backwards with Christine classes, we do these exercises to help stretch those leg muscles. It is so important to stretch, and strengthen, our leg muscles. Our feet and legs support our body and bringing that energy in will give us more vitality.
These exercises can be done anytime but are particularly good after you finish another activity, or if you’ve been sitting for a while. Give your legs a good stretch!
Have a sturdy chair handy to help with balance but try to let go, even for a few seconds, to improve that balance. Stand behind the chair.
Achilles and Calf Stretch: Place one foot slightly behind the other, toes facing forward. Step back with one leg and bend your back knee while pressing the heel of your back foot into the floor. Your front foot is flat on the floor too. Keep your back straight and tighten your abs. Do not round your shoulders or lower back.
Slowly raise and lower your heel twice, keeping the back knee straight. Maintain your back lunge while you bend your back knee and straighten it, pressing your heel into the floor. Step back or forward a bit, if needed, to keep the heel on the floor and to make sure you feel this in your calf muscles [the back of your lower leg.] Press your hands onto the back of the chair to increase the stretch. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Switch the position of your legs and repeat.
Quad and Psoas Stretch: This will be easier standing beside the chair, gently holding for balance. Stand with one foot behind the other, a comfortable distance apart.
Lift your back heel and bend your knee while gently pushing your weight forward. Tuck your tailbone under into a pelvic tilt. You should feel the stretch in your Quad (thigh) muscles.
For the psoas (hip flexor) muscles: Maintain the pelvic tilt, with your heel raised, as you slowly straighten your back leg. It’s important to tuck your tailbone under to feel this stretch properly and take any strain off your lower back.
Hamstring Stretch: Extend your back leg in front, place your heel on the ground and flex your foot, pulling your toes up towards you. Pivot forward at the hips, keeping your back knees together and back straight.
Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh (your hamstring muscles.) Move your foot back and forth, rotating on your heel, feeling the movement in your hips. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Repeat these exercises on the other side.
Take a few deep breaths and give your body, especially the legs a good shake. Dance around a little.
To learn more about my classes, visit this page on the website.