How to Stretch Leg Tendons

How to Stretch Leg Tendons
How to Stretch Leg Tendons (Image: Youngoldman/iStock/GettyImages)

Your tendons are under a lot of tension when you exercise, especially when you do explosive activities like sprinting and jumping. If these thick bands of tissue, which connect muscles to bones, are too stiff, they won't be able to properly handle all of the force from those activities.

Ideally, your tendons should be very elastic, meaning they stretch like a brand-new rubber band. The more they stretch, the stronger they rebound. Just like a rubber band, tendons are more likely to tear when they become too stiff. Ballistic stretches help prepare your tendons for tough workouts.

Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic stretches are quick movements that bring your muscle into a stretch and then are quickly released. It's not ideal if you want to focus on making a specific muscle more flexible, because the stretches don't last long enough. However, ballistic stretching help make your tendons more elastic, according to a 2007 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Use ballistic stretches wisely because you can get hurt. Don't push the stretch too far, and don't move too quickly. As long as you get a stretch and quick rebound you're helping your tendons.

Getting ready for running.
Making your tendons more elastic decreases your chance for injury. (Image: g-stockstudio/iStock/GettyImages)

Butt Kicks

Add a bounce to your quad stretches using this ballistic stretch.

How to: Either jogging forward or standing in place, push your body up off of the floor with one foot and kick your other foot up toward your butt, bending your knee. Try to hit your butt with the heel of your foot and then drop that foot down to the ground and press off, stretching the other leg.

Zombie Walks

Target your hamstrings one at a time by swinging them forward.

How to: Step forward with one foot and swing the other leg up in front of your as high as you can, keeping your knee straight. Reach your arms straight forward and try to hit your arm with your toes. Drop that leg back down and swing the other leg up, taking another step forward.

Ballistic Toe Touch

Move slightly slower with this ballistic stretch to avoid undue stress on your spine.

How to: Stand tall with your feet together. Keep your knees straight and lean forward, reaching down with both arms. Stick your butt back as you reach down. Go as low as you comfortably can, then stand back up tall. Repeat 15 times.

Leg Swing

Stretch the thigh muscles on the inside and outside of your leg with this ballistic stretch.

How to: Stand in front of a wall with your hands on the wall. Lean forward and put your weight into the wall. Bring one leg forward slightly. Keep both knees straight. Swing the front leg out to either the left or right side of your body. Swing it as high as possible, then swing it down and up to the other side. Try to keep your body facing forward as you swing the leg.

Wall Calf Stretch

Although this isn't a ballistic stretch, it gently targets the large Achilles tendon.

How to: Stand in front of a wall and put both hands on it. Stagger one foot back and the other foot forward. The toes of your back foot should line up with the heel of your front foot. Keep your back foot completely flat on the ground and bend your knee forward toward the wall. Slowly get closer to the wall for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

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