Hamstrings and calves make up this last muscle group affected by prolonged sitting. The first four muscle groups included the neck, chest, low back, and hip flexors. The great news is that tight and painful muscles are preventable and reversible! Simply take advantage of short breaks throughout the day and actively stretch.
Just remember to speak to your physician before any changes are made to your health care regime. Additionally, do not bounce while stretching. Bouncing can tear your muscle fibers. Always discontinue any exercise if stretching causes pain, and if something hurts when you do it, please stop.
Back of the Legs (Hamstrings and Calves):
In these busy times, much of our time is spent sitting in a chair or a car. Sitting with knees bent for prolonged periods of time can tighten the back of the legs and increase your risk of back and leg pain. This can easily be avoided by stretching the back of the legs.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch:
If you already have poor balance or a history of back pain, sit in a stable chair with your back supported.
- Slowly raise the lower right leg until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. If you don’t feel a stretch, then, while keeping the
right leg extended, slowly lean forward at the hip until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
- You can further increase the stretch by flexing your toes towards your nose.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Repeat on opposite side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch:
- Stand next to a stable surface that you can grab onto if you lose your
- With the arms by your side and your knees comfortably straight (not locked), round your back and bend forward at the waist, walk your fingers down your legs until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of the legs. Please keep the knees straight but not locked.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly walk your fingers back up your thighs until you are in the full standing position.
- Repeat 2-3 times.
Note: If this exercise causes dizziness or severe loss of balance, then discontinue this exercise.
Calf Stretch 1:
- Stand facing a wall.
- While holding onto the wall, lunge with your right foot forward (front knee bent) and the left leg backward (back leg straight).
- While holding on the wall, slowly transfer your body weight onto the back leg pushing the heel to the ground. You should feel a stretch in the back calf.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat 2-3 times.
- Note: If you do not feel a stretch in the calf, then move your back foot backwards a little and try again.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Calf Stretch 2:
This exercise is designed for people who are quite flexible in the calf muscle.
- Choose a wall that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.
- Stand facing a wall with your feet about an arms length away.
- While using your hands on the wall to balance, place your right foot on the wall.
- Lean your body weight forward towards the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle.
- You can do this exercise with your right knee straight and then the right knee bent.
- Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Repeat on opposite side.
The stretching exercises shared throughout this five part series can be done separately throughout the day so it is easier to accomplish. Just think, we have the power to make a big difference in our overall health with just a few minutes spent everyday caring for ourselves! Enjoy life and continue moving and stretching! Any questions?