The Difference Between Stretching with Your Leg Extended or Bent

The Difference Between Stretching with Your Leg Extended or Bent

September 01, 2022

How do you position your legs for maximum stretching efficiency? Some people prefer to stretch their legs extended, while others like to have their legs bent. What’s the difference?

Stretching with Your Legs Extended

The position of your legs matters whether you’re stretching your upper or lower body; however, how you position your legs depends on the muscles you want to stretch. Here are some common stretches you can perform with your legs extended.

Standing Hamstring Stretches
To perform this stretch, you stand straight with your feet slightly apart and arms by your sides. Exhale and bend forward at your hips with your head lowered entirely toward the floor. Your head, neck, and shoulders should be relaxed. With your legs completely straight, wrap your arms around the back of your legs and hold that position for 30-45 seconds. This stretch targets your hamstrings, calves, neck, back, and glutes.

Swings with Spinal Twist
This type of stretch is regarded as the world’s greatest stretch. Stand straight with your feet together and take a big step forward with one foot to assume a staggered position. Bend the leg in front slightly and keep the other extended fully to feel the stretch. Place one hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the side as you extend the other arm to the ceiling. Hold that position for one minute. Repeat on the other leg. This stretch targets your back, flexors, and quads.

Stretching with Your Legs Bent

Some stretches are more effective when performed with your legs bent. Bending your legs allows the weight of your body to deliver the necessary force for a complete stretch of the targeted muscles. Here are some of the stretches you can perform with your legs bent.

Figure Four Stretch
This type of stretch targets the piriformis and iliopsoas muscles, particularly the hip rotator and flexor. Start by lying on your back with the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left quad.

Lift your left leg off the floor and hold onto the back of your left leg. Pull it gently to your chest until you feel a stretch. This stretch targets the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and lower back.

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Alexandra Hughes of The Pennsylvania Ballet

The Equinus Brace has really helped me get rid of the tight and achy muscles that contributed to my stress fracture. The brace helped relieve my tired muscles and stretch the entire leg, from toes to the thigh, providing complete relief. After a few weeks, I noticed a change in my ballet performance.