5 Physical Therapy Exercises to Try for Stiff Legs

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Have Stiff Legs? Give these stretches a try

Stiff legs are a very common these days because many of us are sitting all day at work. Check out these simple, yet highly effective stretches you can try to help relieve your stiff legs!

Improve your stiff legs today

Whether caused by inactivity or an older injury, stiff legs are a common complaint for many people.

From restless leg syndrome to regular aches and pains that come from hard workouts or long periods of inactivity, there are many ways your legs can get hurt or feel stiff. This doesn’t have to be a permanent disability though.

With the right kind of physical therapy, you can help reduce just how stiff your legs are and how well you feel every day. Use these ideas to stretch and treat stiffness so you get more range of movement and increased stamina and stability from your lower half.

5 Physical Therapy Exercises to Try for Stiff Legs(Note: Check with your physician before trying any of these stretches/exercises.)

Sitting Hamstring Stretch

Commonly, hamstrings are the most notorious muscle for stiffening in the legs. These are the muscles that run vertically along the backs of your upper thighs and typically govern how far forward you can bend while keeping your legs straight.

The best physical therapy exercise for this is to sit on the floor with your legs together and straight out in front of you. Gently bend your body forward until you feel a solid stretch. Hold this for 60 seconds, trying to bend forward a little further on each exhale.

Make sure you are warmed up and limber before trying this stretch.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

You can also try the above stretch standing for a little more pull in the glutes as well (avoid if you have osteoporosis). To have gravity assist you, stand with your feet together and your legs straight. Bend over and try to touch your toes without bending the legs. Like when you do this sitting, try to stretch just a little further each time you exhale. Hold this for 60 seconds and release.

For some different variations, cross one leg over the other and lean over, then switch. You can also turn your legs out from the hips for a different glute and hamstring stretch. For a side of the leg stretch, turn the legs in from the hips and tip up on the sides of your feet before leaning over.

Quad Stretch

The quads are the muscles of the front of the thighs that govern how far back you can bend your lower legs. Perform a standing stretch by pulling your foot back to your butt and holding the knee right under your body. Lie down and pull one leg beneath your bottom then lean back as far as you can go.

This can be a big more difficult to get into, so use caution as you attempt it.

5 Physical Therapy Exercises to Try for Stiff Legs 2Calf Stretch

The calf is the muscle along the back bottom half of the leg that determine how far forward/backwards the foot can bend. To stretch, place your hands on a wall and balance on one leg. Place the other leg behind you, keeping the entire foot on the floor. Now, lean slowly forward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 60 seconds.

For more variations on your calf stretches try placing your hands on the floor in front of your face. Lean back on one leg to pull the muscles along the calf into a stretch. You can also use a step and push your toes against the edge while your heel drops below.

Use the weight of your body to push a stretch against your calf on the step and switch to do the other side.

Glute Stretch

Your glutes are the muscles found in your bottom. While not directly on the leg itself, they nevertheless affect how stiff your legs become. Sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, bring one leg up. Now, place this leg’s foot on the other side of the flattened leg. Hug the knee to your chest for 60 seconds.

You can also pull legs into your body in a crossed leg pose, with one leg in front of the other instead of on top, then lean over and pull a stretch from the farthest leg from your body. Switch legs to get both sides.

Wrap-Up

Provided you stretch every day, you’ll have no problem staving off stiff legs.

If something doesn’t seem to be working out, head to your local physical therapist (like Boise Orthopaedic care center) for more professional instruction. Make sure you always stretch both sides and are warm before attempting any on this list.

Brooke Chaplan
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