These 38 Leg, Hip, and Glute Stretches (Plus 1 Video!) Will Open Up Your Entire Lower Body
When your legs are tight from a tough workout or sitting all day long, a few good stretches can rejuvenate and wake up your entire lower body. With this one-stop shop for lower-body stretches, you can open up every muscle from your hips to your calves: those big muscles that get knotted and sore from runs, weight training, and long workdays. Hold each pose and breathe through the burn, because you're going to feel so good when it's done.
Hamstrings: Active Hamstring Stretch
The small movements in this stretch help you shake out the tightness in the backs of your legs.
- Standing on your right leg, step your left leg forward with your toes flexed.
- Reach your left hand to your toes, keeping your back flat — you should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this position for just a moment, then place your left foot next to your right as you return to standing upright.
- Switch sides to stretch your right hamstring. Continue alternating sides for 20 to 30 seconds.
Hamstrings: Tipover Tuck Stretch
This stretch is good for your hamstrings and also loosens tight shoulders.
- Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips, tucking your chin and bringing your hands over your head.
- Relax the back of your neck, and if the stretch is too intense, release your hands, placing them on the backs of your thighs, and soften your knees. Hold for 30 seconds, and slowly roll up to standing.
Hamstrings: Scissor Stretch
Easy to do anywhere and safe for injured backs, this hamstring stretch is great if you're really tight.
- Stand with your feet together. Step your right foot back about two feet, and bend forward from your hip joint, keeping your back and both legs straight. After holding for 30 seconds, switch sides.
Hamstrings: Standing Hamstring Stretch
If the previous stretch isn't deep enough for you, then try this variation. It's perfect for doing on a bench after a run in the park.
- Prop your left heel up on a surface that is a little lower than your hip, such as a chair or bench. Flex your foot.
- To increase the stretch, bend forward toward your flexed foot by creasing at your hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Hamstrings: Seated Forward Bend
If you can't reach all the way to your toes, set your hands on your knees or shins. Crawl them as far down your legs as you can until you start to feel a stretch.
- Sit on the floor, extending both legs straight out in front of you, legs together.
- Flex your feet and reach your hands to your toes by bending at your hips (trying to not round your back too much), and focus on the stretch for the backs of your legs. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Hamstrings: Modified Hurdler Stretch
This basic stretch is perfect for targeting one leg at a time and is great for those with really tight hamstrings.
- Sit on the floor, and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend your right knee, placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- Fold over your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Hamstrings: Reclined Hamstring Stretch
Here's a relaxing way to stretch one hamstring at a time.
- Lie on your back. Raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold your lower thigh, and encourage your leg to move toward your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf, too.
- To deepen the stretch, place a yoga strap or towel on the ball of your foot, and use your hands to pull the strap toward you. After 30 seconds, switch legs.
Quads: Lying Side Quad Stretch
This is a great stretch if you have knee issues or if you'd rather recline than stand up.
- Lie down on one side, and prop your head up with your hand. Pull your foot toward your butt; bend your bottom knee if you're having trouble staying steady.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Quads: Pigeon Twist
This yoga pose is challenging but great for stretching your quads, opening your hips, and giving you a great spinal twist.
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Bring your right knee forward between your hands, and come into Pigeon pose.
- Rest your right hand beside your right shin, and bend your left knee.
- Reach for your left foot with your left hand, and work on gently pressing the sole of your left foot down in the direction of your left hip.
- Now place your right hand on the top of your left foot and twist to the left, wrapping your left hand around your lower back. If you can, grab onto your upper right thigh in front of your hip.
- Use your hands to press into your body and get you deeper into the twist.
- Stay here for five or more breaths, then release your hands and straighten out your left leg.
- Twist your body back toward the right, and plant your palms on either side of your right knee.
- Step your right leg back and come into Downward Facing Dog for one complete breath. Then bring your left knee forward in between your hands and do this pose on the other side.
Quads: Frog Pose
This pose stretches out the front of your thighs, but it will also give you a nice stretch in your chest and shoulders. It's advanced, so take it slow and don't push your body to the point of pain.
- Lie on your stomach, and prop your torso up with your elbows. Bend both knees, and reach your hands back to hold onto your feet.
- Turn your fingers so they are pointing in the same direction as your toes, and lift your elbows up so they're pointing toward the ceiling. Lift your chest as high as you can.
- If you experience pain in your knee, don't press your foot down as hard, or do one side at a time.
- Stay here for five deep breaths.
Quads: Kneeling Quad Stretch
For a slightly different effect from the standing and reclined stretches, this kneeling quad stretch loosens the muscles right above your knee especially well.
- Start off in a high lunge position, with your right foot forward. Then, slowly drop your left knee to the ground.
- Take a few moments to find your balance, and once you're stabilized, with your left arm, reach back for your toes on your left foot.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Slowly release your hold on your left foot. Come back to the high lunge position, then switch sides with your left foot forward. Perform this move on your right quad.
Quads: Easy Quad Stretch
This basic quad stretch can be done anytime, anywhere.
- Stand on one leg with your knees touching. If you need to, grab hold of a chair or wall for support.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and don't worry about how close your foot is to your butt. Keep your focus on getting a good stretch in your quad.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
IT Band: Crossed-Legs Forward Bend
Your IT band, which runs along the outside of your thigh, helps you to propel forward when you're walking or running. Give this muscle a much-needed break with this simple, do-anywhere stretch.
- Bend in half at the waist, and hang over, crossing your right foot behind your left and pressing your right big toe into the floor.
- Twist your upper body to the right, reaching your right arm to the ceiling. You should feel a gentle pull on the outside of your right leg. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Uncross your legs, and switch legs to stretch the other side.
Hips: Runner's Lunge
This yoga-inspired low lunge opens up your hips and hits your quads and hamstrings, too. Sink down, and let it simmer.
- From standing, step your right foot forward, coming into a lunge. Place your hands just above your right knee for support.
- Reach through your left heel to lengthen the front of your left hip. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Hips: Happy Baby
This calming hip opener also stretches your lower back.
- Begin lying flat on your back. Bend both knees, and hold the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands. Keep your arms on the outsides of your legs.
- Gently use your upper-body strength to equally press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try not to tense your shoulders or chest, but keep everything relaxed.
- Stay here for five deep breaths.
Hips: Extended Wide Squat
This relaxing stretch targets both hips at once while opening up your lower back.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground. If your heels don't touch the ground, roll up a towel or the back of your mat, and place it under your heels for support.
- Bring your palms together at your heart center, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even further.
- After five breaths, release your hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet to increase the stretch in your hips and lower back. Hold for another five breaths.
Stretch both hips at the same time with Butterfly pose.
- Sit on the ground, bend both knees, and bring your feet together. Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Use your leg muscles to press your knees down toward the floor.
- Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button inward. Relax your shoulders, and gaze either in front of you or toward your feet. Stay here for five breaths, then slowly fold forward, drawing your torso toward your legs. Remember to try to keep your spine straight.
- Rest your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Stay here for another five breaths.
Hips: Open Lizard
The hip flexors, the muscles at the front of the hip, can become extremely tight just from sitting. This intense stretch targets that area as well as the outer hips.
- Come into a lunge position with your right knee forward. Lower your left knee to the floor, and rest your hands on the ground under your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your right knee to the right so you're resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight, pressing your chest forward to increase the stretch.
- Hold like this for five breaths, then repeat on the left side.
Hips: Head to Knee
A popular stretch for runners, Head to Knee targets the hips and hamstrings while giving the back a nice stretch, too.
- Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee, and pull the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh.
- Sitting with a tall spine, reach both hands to your left foot, and stack your torso on top of your left thigh. If you can't reach your hands to your foot, rest your hands on your shin or knee. Try not to round your back.
- Stay here for at least five breaths, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Then do the other side.
A basic yoga pose, Pigeon is one of the most effective hip openers because you can focus on one hip at a time.
- Sit with your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you. Pull your right heel in toward your left hip, or if your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins to open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.
- Stay here with your hands resting on your right thigh or your hips, or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee. Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
- Repeat this pose with your left knee bent.
Hips: Double Pigeon
Double Pigeon offers a very intense stretch for your deep glutes.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left knee, and place your knee, shin, and foot on the floor so they're parallel with your pelvis. Bend your right knee, and place it on top so your knees, shins, and ankles are stacked. You'll know you're doing it right when you gaze down and see that your legs make a little triangle.
- You may find your top knee to be high up toward the ceiling. It's OK, it just means that your hips are tight, so just stay where you are and breathe.
- To make this pose more intense, place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can, folding your chest toward your legs.
- Stay here for five breaths, slowly release, then switch legs so your left knee is on top.
Hips: Wide-Legged Split
To stretch your hips, hamstrings, and inner thighs, do a Wide-Legged Split.
- From Wide Squat, place your hands on the floor in front of you and inch your feet apart, making sure to keep your heels wider than your toes. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the ground at all times to protect your knees.
- As your hips get lower, you can prop yourself up with your forearms, then move down to your shoulders (as shown). If your shoulders are on the ground, turn your head to the side, and rest your cheek on the ground so you don't bruise your chin.
- Stay here for five deep breaths, then walk your feet back together. If this pose is a bit more stretch than you can muster, try the Seated Straddle stretch.
Glutes: Seated Twist
This classic glute stretch is a modification of the Seated Twist yoga pose. With less emphasis on twisting the spine, you can really focus on lengthening the glute muscles.
- Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee, and place your right heel as close to your left sit bone as you can.
- Reach your right arm behind you, and plant your palm or fingertips on the floor. Place your left hand or elbow on your right knee or thigh, and gently pull your knee to the left until you feel the stretch in your glutes.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the left side.
Glutes: Seated Leg Cradle
This stretch is great for TV time and can really loosen up tight hips, too.
- Sit on your mat cross-legged or with your feet touching each other. Lift up your left leg, and hook your calf over your left arm. Grab on to your feet with your hands for support.
- Slowly lift up your left leg until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hips. You can gently rock your leg from side to side to move the stretch to different parts of the muscle.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Glutes: Lying Twist
This stretch feels great for the low back, but the configuration of the legs intensifies the stretch for the glutes.
- Lying on your back, extend your arms out to your sides. Bend your knees, and cross your right leg over your left.
- Slowly rotate your knees to the right, allowing them to come to the floor. It's OK if your left shoulder comes off the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Then slowly bring the knees back to the center.
- Reverse directions, and twist to the left. Repeat as needed.
Glutes: Figure Four
This stretch targets the piriformis, which technically isn't part of the muscle group known as the glutes, but it's in the area and it gets tight.
- Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your left ankle on your right thigh, just above your knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down.
- Clasp your hands around your left thigh, and slowly pull your thigh toward your chest. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Glutes: Modified Pigeon
If your hips are tight, this stretch will start to loosen up your glutes and smaller muscles around the back of your hip.
- Kneel on your mat, then bring your right leg behind you. Lean your torso forward, placing your forearms on the mat. Open your left knee outward to the left; your left ankle might need to slide forward so your pelvis can lower toward the floor.
- Bend your elbows to deepen your stretch.
- Hold for one minute, then switch legs.
- For a deeper stretch, try the full version of yoga's Pigeon.
Glutes: Supine Cow Stretch
This stretch is a modified version of a seated yoga pose known as Cow Face. When lying on your back, you can better control the amount of pressure and stretch you want.
- On your mat, lie on your back and cross your right knee over your left knee. Hug both knees toward your chest, making sure you keep a neutral back and neck.
- If you don't feel a stretch, then work your hands down your legs, aiming for your ankles. Make sure you keep your head down.
- Hold here for 30 seconds to one minute, then uncross and repeat with your left knee over your right.
Glutes: Low-Back and Glute Release
If your glutes are super tight and sore, this position will feel like a big stretch. On an average day, though, it might just feel like a gentle release for your lower back and butt.
- Lie on your back, and draw your knees to your chest to give your low back a gentle stretch.
- Increase the stretch by bringing your forehead toward your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Calves: Wall Calf Stretch
This is a classic calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.
- Stand a little less than arm's distance from the wall.
- Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
- Bend your left knee, and press through your right heel.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Calves: Wall or Curb Stretch
This is one of the easiest stretches to do as soon as you finish a run. If you have weak Achilles tendons, do the variation using a wall instead of a ledge.
- Find a wall, and stand a few inches away. With one foot, put your toes on the wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and flex.
- Hold for about 10-15 seconds, then alternate with your other foot.
- You can also do this stretch using a curb or step and hanging your heels off the ledge.
Calves: Seated Calf Stretch
This is a simple way to stretch your calves while sitting.
- Sit comfortably on the floor. If the backs of your legs are really tight and you find yourself slumping, sit on a pillow so you can keep your spine straight.
- Fold your right leg in, and reach your left leg long.
- Wrap a yoga strap or Theraband (or an old tie or belt from your bathrobe) around the ball of your left foot.
- Use the strap to pull your toes toward your head.
- Do not jam your knee into the floor, and keep your left heel on the ground.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat of the other side.
Calves: Downward Facing Dog
This basic yoga pose is a great calf stretch.
- Begin in a plank pose with your hands under your shoulders, then lift your pelvis up, making a "V" with your body. Spread your fingers wide.
- Work on bringing your heels toward the ground.
- Allow your heels to flare out slightly wider than your toes.
- Reach your sits bones, on the bottom of your pelvis, high to the ceiling to increase the stretch.
- To deepen the stretch in your calves, try treading lightly by pressing down on one foot while bending your other leg (as shown). Hold a few seconds per leg, then switch.
- Hold or alternate your feet for a total of 30 seconds.
- You can increase your stretch even more by lifting up one leg into Three-Legged Dog.
Calves: Calf and Shoulder Stretch at the Wall
This stretch is a great multitasking stretch that opens your shoulders as well as your calves.
- Stand in front of a wall with your feet together. Place your hands on the wall shoulder-width apart.
- Rock your weight back on your heels without locking your knees, so your toes get pulled off the ground. Reach your bum out as far as you can by lengthening through your spine. Tuck your chin to feel a deep stretch in the back of your neck.
- Stay here for 30 seconds, then shift your weight forward, placing your toes back on the ground.
Calves: Calf Rock
This is an active stretch for the calves and works well as a warmup.
- Rock back onto your heels, actively pulling your toes away from the floor.
- Roll forward on your feet and lift your heels, coming into a calf raise. Keep rocking slowly, forward and backward, for eight to 10 reps. Hold onto a wall if this exercise challenges your balance.
Calves: Standing Soleus Stretch
It's important to keep the soleus — the deep calf muscle — loose to prevent problems with the sole of your foot, like plantar fasciitis.
- Step your right foot back about a foot. Keeping your feet parallel, bend both your knees.
- Press your right heel into the ground as you shift your weight forward to increase the stretch.
Calves: Seated Soleus
This stretches the lower part of the soleus and feels great on the sole of your foot, too.
- Cross your left ankle above your right knee. Use your hand to pull your left toes to the left, flexing your foot. Hold for three to five seconds, then release.
- Repeat this stretch 10 times and then do it with the other foot.
Calves: Foam Roller Stretch
You can also massage tight calves with a foam roller; it's intense but effective.
- Sit on the floor with your left ankle crossed over your right, and place the roller under your right calf.
- Lift your pelvis off the ground so your weight is supported by your hands and the roller.
- Roll the length of your calf, from the back of your knee to the Achilles tendon. Make sure to roll both the inside and the outside of the muscle.
- Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch legs.
5-Minute Towel Stretch For Long and Lean Limbs | Class FitSugar
This five-minute video will lead you through some basic leg stretches that your hips and knees will appreciate, too. Do a bit of cardio to get your blood flowing, then grab a towel to help deepen the stretches.