Stretching Routine: How To Get Fit And Flexible

Anyone who has taken up gymnastics, dance or martial arts knows the struggle of getting more flexible. It’s something you can work on tirelessly, but without that extra push, you can stay at the same level for what seems like forever.

And when stretching needs to be done so frequently, it’s impossible to rely on a training partner to always help you push your limits. Some stretches are ok to do on your own – hamstrings for one as well as glutes – as you can use your bodyweight to push down on your muscles to further the stretch.

Your hips and inner thighs are more difficult to target. But if you want to get your legs to head height, then employing something as simple as a leg stretcher can really work wonders for your flexibility.

Leg stretchers: how they can help

1) They push your legs wide

Stretching your hamstrings out can be fairly easy when it comes to pushing your stretches a little further. Prop your foot up on a chair, lean in to the stretch, grab your toes, breathe and push a little further. But the inside of your legs can be really hard to even get going. You can do a gentle stretch with your legs crossed, and if you are already super flexible, you can go down into the splits. But what about everyone else in between? The leg stretcher actually gets your muscles into a position where you can open the adductors and stretch them out – all while sitting down and relaxing into the stretch. Other ways of stretching out this muscle usually include working with a partner, so they can push your leg up to the side while you stand. And considering how often you need to stretch, doing this a couple of times a week when you train just isn’t enough.

2) You can stretch and relax at the same time

A lot of stretching involves being warm and relaxed so that you can push the muscles that little bit further. Breathing and relaxing into the stretch is really important. So, if you’re working your muscles or you’re too tense, you have no way of improving your flexibility. The leg stretcher puts the tension into the bar - and not your legs – to further the stretch. It’s like having your training partner push on your legs for you while you relax into the stretch. By pulling the handle in toward you, the bars push your legs out and wide so you can lean into the stretch and breathe.

3) You can use them whenever you want


With regular stretching, sometimes you’ve just got to fit it in when and where you can. And if that involves stretching at 6am, 10pm or even midnight, then so be it! We know stretching is all about frequency. So having a leg stretcher that allows you to fit in that extra bit of training morning, noon or night, can be really beneficial. On top of that, you can bring it out straight after training while your muscles are warm. This is really beneficial as it’s important to get your stretches in when your muscles are warm, relaxed and filled with blood.

4) You can resist the stretch

If you have read about improving your flexibility before, then you’ll have heard of PNF stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. This is basically when you resist a stretch to further the stretch. Sounds kind of confusing at first! But it means resisting the force that’s pushing you into the stretch, to increase the stretch. This can be applied when using the leg stretcher. It may take a little practice at first, but if you pull the bar into you - to further the stretch - but push back with your legs at the same time, you can increase your stretch even further. This is a common technique used by personal trainers and you see it a lot at the gym. In addition, it’s pretty difficult to do without the use of a personal trainer so the leg stretcher can really help with this. Plus you get an arm workout at the same time!

5) They can be stored away easily

The classic three bar leg stretchers are a great piece of equipment as they don’t take up much room at all. On top of that, they don’t break the bank either. Some of the larger leg stretchers can take up an unnecessary amount of room and are very expensive too. With a three bar, you can bring it out and tuck it away with ease. Meaning you can stretch in front of the TV without taking up the living room with a giant contraption.

Leg stretcher stretching routine

A leg stretcher should be used as often as you can – at least three times a day. Make sure your muscles are warm when you use it and that you can set aside a few minutes to use it.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Put the bar in front of you and pull the centre bar towards you. This will widen the outer bars. With your legs in place using the stretcher, bring the centre bar further in until you’re at a full stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Remember to breathe and relax.
  • After the time is up, relax your muscles and take it up a notch.
  • Repeat for another minute or so and then take it up one last notch.
  • Remember to breathe, relax and then release the bars.
  • If your muscles are shaking or you feel pain, stop. Get this in as often as you can to try and train your muscles and increase your flexibility.

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