The brief background is I went to a physical therapist (PT) after getting some calf pain while and after running. My main muscles are strong but way too tight. My IT band (running down the outside of your leg) is also tight. My other muscles, the ones around my hips, are too weak. This is what she gave me to do.

All of these are done on each leg.

Strap stretches

I have three stretches I do with a strap like this. My PT suggested a belt or dog leash or literally anything you can loop around your foot and hold onto. I've heard of using a towel.

The first, I lay on my back with one leg flat and straight. With the strap around my foot and my knee straight, I pull my leg toward pointing straight up. My PT said at my age (38) I should be able to get close to 90 degrees but I was at 60-65 degrees. I do this for about a minute, always trying to go longer than shorter. This stretches right behind my knee.

The second is a variation of the first. Lowering my foot to about half the distance, I cross my leg across the other and pull. This stretches around my hip, particularly the muscle at the top of the IT band.

Then the third I flip over and now with my thigh on the ground use the strap to pull my foot toward my butt. I feel this in my quads. My quads seem to be especially tight. Again hold this for at least a minute.


I have two different calf stretches, and I typically alternate day to day which I do.

The first is simple: stand with my toes on a stair with my heels hanging off. Let my heels sag to feel the tension in my calfs.

The other is also simple but harder to explain. Leaning on a wall with both hands, put one foot forward and put your other heel down to feel the tension in your calf. Do it both with your knee straight and with it slightly bent. The two different knee positions feel slightly different.

Hip strengthening

This is the one that's really tough. All of these have a band like this around my ankles.

First I take little side steps while standing upright. Take up all the tension with one leg, then let the other pick up about half the distance (i.e. not fully slack on the band) and repeat. Go both directions so each leg gets a chance to lead.

Then repeat that but while squatting (butt back, not knees forward). This one completely kills me in a good way. Again go both directions so each leg can lead.

The third my PT described as a "railroad." It's little steps forward, feet spread. Then repeat going backwards.

The fourth is a balance squat step. Starting from a squat, take a step forward with the back foot of the ground. Step forward and again the trailing foot is held off the ground. Repeat taking these slow steps.

Foam roller

I foam roll four things. Hamstrings and calfs are straightforward: put your weight on the roller and roll. My PT suggested a tennis ball for the calf, and I can see why. I can target it better. I'm experimenting with a ball on my hamstring, too.

Then I try to roll on my side immediately below my hip bone, where my femur meets my hip. This is the muscle at the top of the IT band. It's hard to get in the right spot. On my side I'm able to flex my hip and especially knee while rolling here. This is an "active release." When I feel a spot (it's a good hurt), I hold around there and bend my leg and roll across it.

The quad rolling is the one I feel the most. With my quad across the roller, I roll first with my toes straight down, then with them pointing out, then again with them pointing in. I try to get as high (almost onto my hips) and low (to my kneecaps) as I can. Again when I get to a good spot I bend my knee as I roll across the spot. This one was almost painful the first few times, but it's mellowing out as I work out the kinks in my legs.

And that's it! It doesn't take a ton of time.


It’s great that you’re doing the homework.

I work as a massage therapist in a PT office and it is almost always obvious during re-exams which patients have been keeping up with their exercises/stretches. Their outcomes are better and their recovery times are noticeably shorter.

Keep it up. It’s definitely worth it.

posted by WanderingEng: 156 days ago