Health Library: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Stretches for Your Lower Legs

Stretching can keep your lower legs limber and your joints pain free. The following stretches involve the ankles and knee joints.

Keep these guidelines in mind when doing them:

  • Check with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program, and especially if you have had knee surgery.

  • Begin each stretching session with five to seven minutes of gentle aerobic exercise, such as walking or riding a stationary bicycle, to warm up your muscles.

  • Start out slowly and build repetitions gradually.

  • Stop any exercise that causes pain.

  • Repeat each exercise two to four times, or as instructed.

Lower legs

Stand with your feet separated 12 to 18 inches, one in front of the other and toes pointed forward. Slowly shift your weight forward, bending the knee that’s out in front and keeping the heel of the back foot on the floor. You should feel the resistance in the muscle on the back of your calves. Switch legs and repeat.

Achilles tendon and calf muscles

Stand two or three feet from a wall. Lean forward with both hands touching the wall, one foot forward and the other 12 to 18 inches behind. Leave both feet flat on the floor during the stretch. Hold the stretch position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat for a total of two to four repetitions. Complete all repetitions on one side before changing sides. 

Stair-step calf-raise

Stand on a stair step with the toes of both feet near the edge. Position your heels below the level of the step, then rise on your toes. Hold the stretch and slowly return to the starting position.

Be careful. If you have small feet and a large body, overdoing calf raises could damage your foot. To avoid this, gradually increase the number and height of the raises.