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Stretches to Reduce Leg Spasticity
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Spasticity occurs when your muscles and tendons become stiff, making it hard to move. This can happen in your legs, arms or back. Simple stretches and range-of-motion exercises can help improve muscle spasticity. Stretches of any kind can help improve spasticity, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, as long as they can be performed several times per day.
Lie flat on your back, preferably on a firm, stable surface. Once your body is in the correct position, bend your legs and bring your knees to your chest. Once your knees are to your chest, stretch your hamstring muscles for 20 to 30 seconds. You should feel a little pulling and burning sensation as your muscle stretches; this is normal. After 20 to 30 seconds, lower your legs to the original starting position. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg, two to three times per day. If you’re unable to bring your knees all the way up to your chest when you begin performing this exercise, lift your knees as close to your chest as you can and try to decrease the distance between your knees and chest each day until you're able to perform knee-to-chest pulls.
Side-to-Side Leg Movements
Hip and knee range-of-motion exercises can also help improve muscle spasticity. You perform hip and knee exercises while lying flat on your back. Begin by pointing your toes toward the ceiling, then move your right leg out to the side of your body as far as you can make it stretch. Bring your leg back to starting position and repeat the same exercise with your left leg. Perform 10 repetitions.
Leg Raises with Ankle Rotation Exercises
Sit in a firm, comfortable chair. Lift your right leg until it's parallel with your hip. Once your leg is in position, begin performing ankle rotations in a clockwise movement. Perform this exercise for 20 to 30 seconds. Complete the exercise by slowly lowering your right foot back to the ground. Perform the same exercise with your left leg. This can be performed periodically throughout the day as needed to help stretch your muscles.
Always seek a doctor's approval before beginning any stretching exercises, especially if you’ve had hip surgery. If you're unable to perform stretching exercises on your own, you may still perform these exercises with assistance from a trained professional, such as a physical therapist.
Kristin Davis has been writing since 2004, specializing in the health and fitness fields. She has written for online and print publications including Fitness Monthly and Creative Circle. Davis has certification through the International Fitness Professionals Association as a personal trainer.