As a personal trainer, I often see people not spending enough time doing stretches on their lower body workout days.
And this surprises me because it only takes a few minutes to add a lateral and side lunge stretch that can make a big difference.
But there are some common mistakes people make, from toes pointed in the wrong direction to knees not being straight.
So, our team got together with a physiotherapist to come up with this simple guide that will explain how to do it and why it’s so important.
- The side lunge stretch involves stepping to each side into a squat while keeping the other leg straight and achieving a stretching sensation in the inner thigh.
- The unilateral exercise requires proper form and slow and consistent movement to avoid overstretching muscles or adding pressure onto hip joints.
- The increased range of motion can help with many other hip exercises and lead to better muscle gains.
How To Do The Side Lunge Stretch
Here are some simple instructions to follow in order to do these side lunge stretches.
- Step 1: Start in a standing position with toes pointed straight forward in the same direction and feet hip-width apart.
- Step 2: Step your left foot out to the side and keep your right foot firmly planted on the ground.
- Step 3: Start leaning forward and bending your left leg as if you’re doing a one-leg squat, and try to slowly get down as far as possible and hold for a few seconds.
- Step 4: Slowly twist the straight leg so the right heel is in contact with the ground and the toes point up (this will take some balance).
- Step 5: Make sure your core is fully engaged and that your right knee stays straight; then, straighten your left leg and bring your left foot back to the starting position.
- Step 6: Now, do the same movement with your right leg, stepping out and bending the right knee while keeping a left straight leg.
Two key parts are keeping your toes pointed in the right direction at the right times and not allowing the straight leg to bend as you squat down.
What Leg Muscles Does A Side Lunge Stretch?
The side lunge stretch will mainly stretch the glutes and hamstring leg muscles of the straight leg.
You may also feel the stretching sensation more on the inner leg muscles of the thighs.
It’s important to note that it’s significantly different from the stretch you get from a lateral lunge where the straight leg is behind you.
This kind of stretch mainly works the hamstring, calf, and quadriceps muscles .
The reason I like side lunge stretches is that they have a very different impact on the hamstring muscles of the straight leg.
Shifting the stretch more to the inside of the leg may help to impact more muscle fibers.
And the great thing is that with just a couple of lunge variations, you’ll gain some great benefits for your leg muscles.
“Leg stretches can help you maintain lower body mobility and prevent injury and pain.”
- Laura Williams Bustos, MS
Benefits of This Type of Stretching
Let me show you the benefits you’ll get from regular lunch stretching.
1. More Lateral Flexibility
When you first start doing a side lunge stretch, you’ll notice that you probably won’t be able to get all the way down.
The straight leg will want to bend because of a lack of flexibility in the hip joints.
But that should improve the more often you do these stretches.
2. Improved Muscle Strength
The side lunge is also great for activating and warming up muscles in the bent leg.
Because you’re holding the eccentric phase of the squat, your muscles have to stay engaged.
And the improved range of motion will help with better form during squat exercises .
3. Better Balance
The side lunge can also help you improve balance for different exercises and yoga.
You’ll train your body coordination, core stability, and joint flexibility.
And don’t worry if you can’t keep a straight leg the first time you do a side lunge stretch.
You need to gradually work towards that.
4. Prepare Legs For Training
And then there’s the reason I suggest you do these before your leg day warm-up.
Stretching cold muscles is a great way to start boosting blood flow, and it will make your warm-ups easier as well.
Also Read: Ultimate Home Gym Leg Workout
What Does A Side Lunge Stretch Help With?
The side lunge stretch helps with improved hip flexibility, balance, and activation of the glutes and hamstrings. It’s a great stretch where you gradually build up how far down you can go while maintaining the ideal posture.
Are Side Lunges Good For Hips?
Yes, side lunges are good for the hips. These stretches open up the pelvis and thighs by stretching them further apart than you would do in typical everyday activities.
Add A Side Lunge Stretch To Your Leg Days
Try adding a side lunge on your lower body workout days and even do them regularly at home if you feel like you have limited hip flexibility.
It can have quite an impact on how low you can go down during squats.
And I would also suggest that you try taking a pre-workout supplement for boosted performance:
These aren’t magic pills, but even a five percent boost in strength and stamina will add up quickly over the weeks ahead.
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