Squatting exercises are an effective way to strengthen and tone your legs. However, it's important to stretch adequately before your workout for a number of reasons. First and foremost, stretching will help prevent injury. Stretching also helps prevent soreness and will improve your squatting form. Your back is made up of a number of muscles, all of which need to be stretched so you feel limber and ready to have a great workout.
Lie on your back on the floor to begin stretching your lower back and legs. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs, then start to slowly pull your legs to your chest. Hold this position for 10 seconds, relax your muscles, and then repeat 10 times.
Roll onto your stomach to begin stretching the curve of your back. Lift both of your legs back toward the ceiling. You'll feel the stretch in your back as well as your legs. Repeat this 10 times.
Find a table or a flat, stable surface that's about hip-level, to stretch your hip flexor muscles, which run from the lower back to the front of the thigh bone. Sit on the edge of the table, then lie down on your back. Grasp one knee with both hands and extend the other leg so it hangs freely. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, then release. Switch legs, then repeat. Do two sets on each side.
Step off the table and kneel on your hands and knees on the floor. Arch your back toward the ceiling as you drop your head and curve your bottom toward the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Arch your back the opposite way, turning your face up and curving your bottom toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 second, then relax. Repeat the stretch 10 times.
- When the lower back rounds during the lowest part of the squat, it's an indication of tight hips and hamstrings. Stretch these areas of your body before exercising.
- Consult a physician before beginning any new exercise routine.
Jennifer Kimrey earned her bachelor's degree in English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She's a regular contributor to the "Houston Chronicle" and her work has appeared on Opposing Views Cultures, The Austin American-Statesman, The Red Vault, The Western Vault and various other websites and publications.