Truth be told, we’re always dreaming of a flexible body like a fiddlehead. And if you think about a flexible body, nine times out of 10 is Bruce Lee’s image coming to mind.
What are leg stretchers?
Gymnasts, boxers, mixed martial artists and various athletes are using leg stretchers for developing a slim and flexible body.
Leg stretchers are going to improve the flexibility in adductors, calves, hamstrings and inner thighs. They are all essential for the splits, high kicks, toe touches, and various movements that imply a whole range of motion from the legs and the lower part of your body.
As long as you’re doing it right, stretching should improve your flexibility as it lengthens the muscle fibers in a controlled and incremental way. It can also enhance the range of movement during a pre-workout activity.
A leg stretcher is rather easy to use and affordable stretching accessory. You may find it on most sports equipment stores out there. At FightingReport you can find out which are the best options at the moment. Besides, you can also take a look at the great variety of equipment for various sports. Wrestling, Boxing, MMA, Fencing, Martial Arts are some of the categories to check. You can also check the options for supplements or apparel. Just take your time to see it all.
Leg stretchers aren’t created equal. It goes without saying that you may find different prices, design, and overall quality. The simplest and most affordable leg stretcher features a metal tripod. It may cost somewhere around $50. The more features on the leg stretcher (electric motors, built-in seats), the more bucks you’re going to pay for it.
What’s the best way to use a leg stretcher?
If this is the very first time when you’re using a leg stretcher, you should scroll down for the step-wise guide.
- Begin with warming up
You should start with your typical warm-up activity. You may try some light cardio for increasing your body temperature and warm up the muscles. You want to increase the heart rate. Jumping rope, jogging, cycling, walking, rowing-they’re great for warmup sessions.
Don’t stop for 10 minutes or so. You may try some light stretches to prepare your body for the more powerful leg stretching workout later on.
- Get into the starting position
Once you’ve finished your warmup, you should get into a starting position. Sit on the floor and start by stretching your legs. You should continue with adjusting the leg stretcher so that both of your legs are pulled apart comfortably.
This position is preferably a mild beginner stretch. Here are some important rules to remember:
- You should never round your back. it’s best that you lean forward at the hips
- Sit tall on the ischium (the bottom bones of your pelvis).
- Increase the range
When you’ve finished the mild stretch, you may amplify the scope of your stretching. Most leg stretchers out there come with a central bar that you have to pull towards yourself. The more you’re drawing, the more stretching you’re going to accomplish.
No matter how ambitious you are, you shouldn’t overdo it! Stretching has to remain comfortable. Don’t forget to stay in the same position for 30-60 seconds.
You need to relax without holding your breath. Remember to sit up straight, leaning forward at the hips. No rounding your back whatsoever.
We cannot stress enough about the importance of your body posture for the safe use of the leg stretcher.
- Contract the leg muscles
You should continue with contracting your leg muscles. Push the legs together and don’t hold your breath. Don’t reduce the stretch either. You should do it against the resistance of the leg stretcher. Hold that position of contraction for 10-15 seconds.
After you release the contraction, breath in and out heavily, increase the stretch but maintain your leg muscles relaxed and comfortable. Hold this position for 60 seconds.
- Repeat no.4
You should do the step no. 4 once again until you no longer increase the stretching. In other words, you have to raise the stretch bit by bit when doing step no.4.
When you cannot perform any more progress, you should maintain the position for 1-2minutes. Continue with releasing the stretch nice and smooth.
Side note: Progressing the Stretch
You should increase the stretch only gradually, in a comfortable way. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds. This action depends a lot on the model of leg stretcher that you’re using. You may have to pull the central bar toward you, press the control button or turn the ratchet handle.
You should give your best and relax, holding normal breathing. It’s no use to catch your breath. Sit up straight or lean a bit forward at the hips once again.
It’s essential that you repeat until you cannot progress any more.
What are the tips to remember when using the leg stretcher?
Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:
- To obtain the deepest stretch possible, you should always exhale forcefully
- You only need to stretch the muscles, not the tendons too
- When you want to get the best out of your stretching session, you should do it at least three times a week
- Don’t clench your jaw, hold your breath or hunch your shoulders. Don’t tense up in any other way either.
- Always remain in a tall sit-up position
- Exhale forcefully as you’re increasing the stretching depth
- Maintain your shoulders and legs comfortable, in a relaxed way
What not to do when using the leg stretcher?
It’s also vital that you avoid some common mistakes when using the leg stretcher:
- Never round your lower back. you’re going to reduce the risk for injuries by doing so
- Never clench your jaw nor hunch your shoulders throughout the stretching session
- Don’t stay in a stretched position when your muscles begin to shake or burn without you being able to control it. Shaking is a sign that you’re overstretching and even damaging your muscles.
- Never lean forward from your back.
One last piece of advice
Should your muscle begin to shake uncontrollably or you feel your muscles burning, you need to release the stretch a bit until the signs go away.
Leg stretchers are great. But you do need to do it right for obtaining the best out of them.