7 Stretches That Help Alleviate Joint Pain
Stretching is one of the most overlooked and underestimated aspects of fitness programs. Some of the most common ailments I see in clients is a direct result of tightness in certain muscle groups, specifically the knees and lower back. Usually, the culprit of that pain resides in the lower extremities. Our hip flexors and extensors are some of the most utilized muscle groups in the body (sitting, standing, walking, bending over.. etc.). Whenever you use a muscle over and over within a small range of motion (jogging and walking), they tighten up to the length they're being used. Or if the muscles stay in a shortened state for long periods of time (sitting or sleeping), the muscles will adjust to that length. This is why, when you stretch them out the opposite way or further than they're used to, they will pull on their attachments and insertion points (Where their tendons are connected to the bone), causing you to feel tightness and potentially pain in other areas of your body, such as your hips, knees, or lower back.
Tight lower extremities are one of the biggest causes of lower back pain, sciatica, and runner's knee. I've spent so much time helping clients slowly stretch out and regain a healthy range of motion that I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite lower body stretches with you!
Below are 7 stretches you can do on a regular basis to help keep your muscles and joints feeling healthy and mobile!
*Always make sure you've warmed your muscles up before stretching them out! You want to stretch to the point of slight discomfort but never pain! Be sure to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds each and if you're really tight, repeat 2-3 times a day!
1. Quad Stretch
Standing on one leg, grab your foot with your hand and pull back. Make sure your knee stays in line with your hip. For more of a stretch push your foot into your hand.
2. Hamstring Stretch
Standing with your feet together and lean over, keeping your back flat.
3. Wide-Leg Forward Bend
With a wide stance lean over and let your self hang stretching out the hamstrings and inner thighs.
4. Revolved Triangle Pose
With your feet staggered and legs straight, lean forward as far as you can and place your hand on the ground, a block, or a chair (depending on your range of motion) and twist towards the leg that is forward.
5. Low Lunge
Keep your back knee on the ground and your front foot under your knee. Lean forward as you reach your arms up and arch back to stretch your hip flexors.
6. Seated Pigeon Pose
In a seated position prop your ankle on the opposite knee. Make sure you keep your foot flexed and back straight during this stretch!
7. Single-Leg Spinal Twist
Keep your shoulder on the ground as you drop your knee to the opposite side and gently twist!
*All photos by Kelsey Cherry.