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A few basic stretches can ease the pain of sore thighs.
Muscles can feel a little tender after a workout, and in some extreme cases muscle soreness can make doing even the simplest of activities such as walking up a flight of stairs a painful and unhappy experience. Stretching can work wonders for aching limbs, and your thighs in particular will benefit from a few simple extensions. As long as you know what to stretch and how long to do it for, you'll soon be stretching away that soreness from your thighs.
Start with the Basics
A good beginner-level stretch for sore thighs is the seated side-straddle stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs wide in a the shape of a V. Keep your back tall, maintain good posture, and make sure that your legs and knees are straight. Point your toes at the ceiling, and bring your arms to your sides, forearms vertical to the floor. Holding your abdominal muscles in and keeping your shoulders back, slowly bend sideways, breathing out, so one elbow touches your thigh. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds before returning to an upright position, and repeat two to four more times. When you're done with one side, switch to the other. Make sure that you're controlling your movements and avoid bouncing as you hold the stretch.
Step it Up a Notch
For something a little more challenging, you can take the seated side-straddle and add in side reaches to help ease the soreness in your thighs. As before, sit on the floor, head and spine aligned, shoulders back with legs and knees straight. Toes will be facing toward the ceiling. Begin by holding your abdominal muscles in and turn your torso so that you're facing one leg. Placing your hands on that thigh, breath out as you slowly lower your chest to your thigh. From this position, slide your hands slowly down your thigh toward your ankle. Reach as far as you can, then hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. When you're done, return to the upright position, and repeat two to four more times before switching sides. Remember to control your movements and don't bounce as you hold the stretch.
Focus On the Quads
For a more focused stretch of your thigh muscles, there are a number of positions to try that all involve bending your leg so your calf touches the back of your thigh. These quadriceps stretches can be done lying prone on the floor or on a mat, on your side, or standing up while holding onto the back of a chair or steadying yourself with one hand against a wall. Simply hold one leg at the ankle, and pull it back so that your calf and upper thigh are touching. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, keeping your hips straight. When lying prone, make sure you begin with both arms stretched above your head. To further stretch your thighs, you can place a rolled-up towel under your knee, but make sure that you don't overstretch the joint.
Take Preventative Measures
Prevention is often better than a cure. With that in mind, you may want to avoid over-training by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts over time. Avoid working out when you're sore, as this will only lead to wear and tear on joints and ligaments as you try to compensate for the discomfort. Get plenty of rest and allow your body to recover if you're really in pain. If you're only a little sore, exercise can actually help reduce the pain of sore thighs, but only if that exercise is gentle.
Follow These Tips
Muscle cramps can occur during or after a workout session, and can be caused by low levels of sodium or potassium in your system, or just because of simple muscle fatigue. To cover your bases, always stretch out your thighs after a workout, and replace lost electrolytes and sodium with a sports drink. You can also replace lost levels of potassium simply by eating a banana. Thighs often feel tight because of periods of prolonged inactivity. With this in mind, if you're working at a desk all day, make sure to stand up and walk around every 20 minutes to keep your muscles from feeling sore. Maintain good posture when you're seated, and stretch out your thighs when you can.