Lower leg pain can be caused by a variety of underlying issues. In most cases routine lower leg stretches can help provide long-term improvement. Outside of quick and temporary relief, having a good home treatment regime can help you feel your best. This should include a mix of exercise, pain modalities, and stretching. In this article we will cover the best lower leg stretches you can add to your daily routine for pain relief.
When lower leg pain starts, it most often leads to stiff and sore calf muscles, also known as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. These large muscle groups on the back of the lower leg are constantly used for daily activities like standing and walking. Even if these muscles aren’t directly affected, they will often become painful secondary to an altered gait pattern (walking). Warm up with these stretches.
There are many ways to achieve this stretch. You can use your hand, a wall, stretch strap or calf stretcher to target your muscles in the back of the lower leg. This will also help increase ankle range of motion.
Alternatively, for a more specific calf stretch, try using the calf stretcher while standing. Using a wall or chair for upper body balance.
A standing lunge is a great functional move for both strength and stretching. In addition to stretching the tight calf muscles, you can also get an excellent hip flexor stretch.
Alternatively, you can place your toes on a step or foam roller and drop the heel toward the ground to get a calf stretch as well.
This one isn’t necessarily a stretch but when a muscle is sore, taking time to self-massage is always a great option to promote relaxation and relieve pain. You can grab a massage ball, foam roller, or a massage stick.
Note: If you are using a foam roller or ball you will most likely need to sit on the ground to get enough pressure from your body weight.
The muscles along the shin bone can also get quite sore with lower leg pain, particularly with common issues like shin splints or any type of foot issue like plantar fasciitis. These stretches are less common than your average calf stretch, but very effective for targeting these specific muscles groups.
The tibialis anterior is the meaty muscle that you can feel on the outside of your shin bone. It can get sore for a lot of reasons, like suddenly increasing your activity level or participating in high impact activities.
The tibialis posterior is an important muscle deep on the back of your shin muscle. It plays a primary role in foot and ankle stability. Most often it gets sore with an increase in activity level or poor shoewear and foot mechanics.
With simple massage techniques you can target the tibialis anterior, tibialis posterior, and even calf muscles to help relieve lower leg pain.
For the posterior tibialis, try this different technique.
Having a few tools to help with your leg pain recovery can make the process more enjoyable and easy. Here are a few of our favorites:
Having a stretching strap is a great way to get a deeper stretch, especially if you are inflexible and struggle with getting into recommended stretching positions. This versatile tool can be used for the lower leg in addition to the rest of the leg muscles and arms. Some primary areas of focus tend to be the hamstrings, iliotibial band, and glutes.
While resistance bands are usually more practical for strengthening exercises, a strong band can be utilized as a stretching strap as well. Additionally, a light band can be utilized to promote circulation and healing of any injured muscles with gentle resisted ankle motions.
The rounded bottom of this tool makes for a smooth easy stretch. There are a variety of ways to utilize the calf stretcher in sitting or standing. Plus, you can decide if you want a single or dual option depending on your balance, preferences, and whether you want to stretch one or both calves at once.
If you have tight ankles or frequently experience calf cramps and pain while sleeping, you might consider a night splint or sock stretcher. These simple devices hold your ankle in a bent, or dorsiflexed, position to promote both stretching of the ankle and prevent the toes from pointing while sleeping (often a trigger for a charlie horse at night). With this type of tool, you may want to talk to your doctor first if you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy or any other type of circulatory or sensory issues.
The muscles in the lower leg, or shank, are used continually with daily activity. Thus, they are a common spot for injury or pain and will benefit immensely from a regular stretching program. Here are just a few of the great benefits:
Increased blood flow to promote healing and reduce any local swelling
Reduced strain to the lower leg, ankle, and foot with activities of daily living
Reduced risk of leg, ankle and foot injury
Lower leg stretches should be performed based on your level of stiffness. You may want to visit these stretches multiple times a day if you feel your muscles are tight. For others, once a day or every other day should help to keep muscles loose.
If you are feeling unsure and would like some professional guidance, scheduling a physical therapy appointment is a great option for optimizing your results and feeling confident in your recovery process.
Choosing the right stretching exercises for your lower leg pain will require a bit of tuning into your symptoms. Once you know which muscles to target, you will be well on your way to pain relief and more ease with movement. Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist if your symptoms are not improving or suddenly get worse for further medical advice.
Sources:Shop Lower Leg Pain
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