Last Updated on February 4, 2022
Today I’m sharing the best leg stretches. I’m also sharing the best inner and outer thigh stretches, too. You’ll be able to use the leg stretches after your workouts and leg days while you’re still sore.
This is part 3 in a mini-series I’m doing with stretches that target the major muscle groups. This series was inspired by the many people I see skipping stretches after their workouts in the gym. Also because so many of you admitted that you skip stretching after your workouts when I shared my post with 10 tips to get better results from your workouts.
I’ve already shared the best arm and back stretches. Now we’re focusing exclusively on the legs, including the thighs, glutes, calves, hamstrings, hips, and quadriceps so you’ll have tons of stretches you can use to recover from your lower body workouts.
All stretches have their own unique set of benefits. Leg stretches are especially helpful for a lot of reasons. I find that when you know the benefits of stretching it’s way more motivating to do them so we’re going to start with the benefits of lower body stretches and then we’ll dig into the best leg and thigh stretch exercises.
Leg Stretch Benefits
Stretching the lower body consistently has a variety of benefits.
- Tight muscles can cause poor posture. Sitting improperly can lead to sciatica, low back pain, and poor posture. Stretching the legs and hips can improve posture and reverse postural issues, too.
- Stretching can improve range of motion and prevents loss of range of motion. This is extremely important to maintain mobility and the ability to extend limbs and use joints.
- Stretching can decrease leg, knee, and low back pain and can also help reverse existing injuries and pain. Stretching also helps prevent injuries and pain, especially in the knees, hips, shins, and low back.
- These exercises can decrease muscle soreness, stiffness, and simultaneously increase circulation.
- Stretching helps reduce cellulite. Cellulite occurs when connective fibers underneath the skin become weak or lose their elasticity, but stretching and strengthening those areas (in addition to losing weight) can help reduce and prevent it.
- Stretching feels great and helps relieve stress and tension. A lot of emotions are trapped in the lower body, especially the hips. Doing leg stretches that release hip tension helps you feel better emotionally as well.
Now that you know all of the benefits let’s get into the stretching exercises.
Best Leg Stretches to do After Thigh and Leg Workouts (and After Leg Day)
The following stretching exercises target all of the muscles in the lower body. You’ll see stretches for everything from the waist down including the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, glutes, inner and outer thighs, and calf muscles.
It’s important to stretch all of these muscles together because they all connect at the same joints namely the knees, pelvis, and ankles.
Targeting all of the muscles that connect at these joints means the best results and most benefits for you.
I’ve included 13 of the best leg and thigh stretches and I’ve split them into two routines.
The 7 leg stretches are better for after leg workouts. You’ll also see 6 inner and outer thigh stretches that are better suited for after your thigh workouts.
Use the leg routine after your leg and lower body workouts. The leg stretches also target the thighs and hips… so even if your leg workout targets the main leg muscles and the thighs, the thigh stretch routine ensures both the legs and thighs will be stretched out properly.
Use the same instructions for both routines.
Lower Body Stretch Instructions
- Repeat each of the stretching exercises as instructed to complete one round or set.
- Do two full sets of all exercises to complete the routine.
- You can do these stretches daily or after your leg or thigh workouts. You can also do them the day after your leg days when you’re sore.
You’ll notice some of these stretch poses don’t have an easily recognizable name. I included the muscles that the exercise targets instead so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
After you’re done going through the stretches, leave a comment and let me know which stretch feels best and helps you the most.
Leg Stretching Routine
Pin these leg stretches to pinterest so you’ll have them forever
Leg Stretch Exercise Instructions
Walking Calf Stretch
Start on all fours with your heels flat and palms flat on the floor with your butt pitched up in the air. This is your start position. Lift one heel up then quickly lower it back down and lift your other heel. Alternate lifting your heels for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Pigeon Leg Stretch
Start in a plank position. Bend a knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your foot down in a lunge, draw your knee to the floor with your shin and foot angled back slightly towards the opposite hip. Release your knee to your mat with your knee and leg flat on the floor. Your other foot should be pointing back with your leg straight with the top of your foot on the floor. Square your hips towards the front of the room or mat. Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds then repeat the stretch with your other leg to complete one set.
Walking Leg Stretch
Start with your hands and feet flush on the floor, as you’re bent at the waist. Without moving your legs walk your palms forward and lift your heels off the floor slightly. Quickly reverse the movement walking your hands back towards your feet as you lower your heels back to the ground. Alternate walking out and in for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Hanging Hamstring Stretch
Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width with your hands holding onto opposite elbows. This is your start position. Bend at the waist and let your elbows and head lower to the floor. Without bending your legs hang for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Lunge Leg Stretch
Stand with your legs in a split stance. Lower your body down into a lunge with your knee stacked above your heel and your other leg directly behind you with your heel lifted up off the floor. Use your hands for support and stability. Hold the lunge stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this stretch with your other leg to complete one set.
Quad Leg Stretch
Stand with your feet next to each other. Lift one leg up behind you and rest the top of your foot in your hand on the same side. Make sure you’re resting your foot in your hand. Don’t pull your foot up or back as this can cause strain on the ligaments in the knee. Extend your knee backward to stretch the quadricep and hold for 15-30 seconds. Complete the stretch with your other leg to complete one set. Tip: Hold on to a chair or a wall to help with balance.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend one heel forward as your push your butt back. Square your hips and keep your other foot flat on the floor. Balance your arms on your knee for support as you lift your extended foot’s toes up towards the ceiling as far as you comfortably can. Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds then repeat the stretch with your other leg to complete one set.
Thigh Stretching Routine
Pin these thigh stretches to Pinterest so you’ll have them forever
Thigh Stretch Exercise Instructions
Lying Thigh Stretch
Lay on your back with both feet straight out. Lift one leg up and grab your foot with your hands. Use your hands to pull your leg up as far as you comfortably can. Point your foot and hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the movement with your other leg to complete one set.
Hamstring and Thigh Stretch
Sit with your feet spread as wide as you comfortably can. Lean forward, touching your toes, and hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Happy Baby Stretch
Lie down on your back then with your knees bent lift your legs and hands up to meet. Hold onto your toes with the hands gripped to the toes of the same foot. Extend your knees out and up to the sides as far as you can and hold for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Sit with the soles of your feet touching with your knees extended out to the sides while sitting up straight. Bend over at the waist as far as you comfortably can as you ‘flap’ your knees up and down slightly. Keep your hips square as you do. Flap for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Stand with your legs in a split stance. Keeping your legs straight, lower your chest down towards your knee. Lift your back leg’s heel slightly. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this stretch with your other leg to complete one set.
Leg & Thigh Stretch
Stand with your legs in a split stance, wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your butt back and down with your hands on your knees, until your knees are stacked directly above your ankles. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.
Those are the best leg and thigh stretches with the most benefits that are great to do after your lower body workouts and the day after leg day.
Which stretch did you like the most? Let me know in the comments.
Your Coach and Biggest Cheerleader,
GET A FREE KICKSTARTER WORKOUT PLAN
a $20 Value – Yours free – for a limited time
Sign up to be a CC VIP and get instant access to a free workout plan – including workouts, a schedule, & stretch guide – designed to slim down & tone your entire body while boosting mood & metabolism. As a VIP you'll also get Weekly Tips, Inspiration, and Exclusive Extras you can’t get anywhere else.
Omg Christina, thank you!! Been stretching my hamstrings loads lately and also doing lots of hip openers… but I still felt a bit tight, like I wasn’t quite reaching something. I had missed out the penultimate leg stretch on the Inner/Outer Thigh Routine above, and when I did it my body was like, “finally!!!! this is what we needed” >_<
Thank you so much, I had completely forgotten this stretch and I'm starting to feel so much better already. Bless you, you're amazing <3
Sending loads of love from South Africa! XXXX
You’re so welcome Claire. Mwah!
For someone that is chronically tight and sore, these stretches have been wonderful. Thanks!
awesome! I’m so happy they’re helping you xo