By Lesley Mealor / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)
Dancers of all ages are always looking for a way to get better, whether that’s doing more pirouettes, hitting all the sounds in a pullback, or becoming more flexible. Some of the latest products on the market for dancers looking for more flexibility are called leg stretchers. But are these products safe – or even worth the money?
Yes, leg stretchers can be safe when used properly and can be worth the money if traditional means of stretching have left you at a plateau in your flexibility. However, there are other options that you may have at home that can be just as effective!
You may be wondering, “What the heck is a leg stretcher?! Sounds like torture!” Dancers do often live by the adage of, “No pain, no gain,” but if used correctly, leg stretchers won’t be harmful or painful. If you’re seeking a way to up your flexibility game, you’ve come to the right place to learn more about leg stretchers, as well as less expensive alternatives or even products you already have in your home that can help with flexibility.
- What Is a Leg Stretcher?
- How Do You Use a Leg Stretcher? – Explained in Five Steps
- Is Using a Leg Stretcher Safe?
- What Is the Best Over Door Anchored Leg Stretcher?
- Is Using a Leg Stretcher Better Than Just Stretching?
- How Can I Stretch Without a Leg Stretcher?
Hey reader, just letting you know this article has affiliate links which means if you click on them and purchase an item, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This money helps to run the website and buy items like we did to test for articles like these!
What Is a Leg Stretcher?
Leg stretchers are products made for dancers, gymnasts, yogis, martial artists and anyone looking to become more flexible. Most leg stretchers, like The Ttolbi Leg Stretcher, include an over-the-door strap with an anchor, and a long yoga strap with a metal ring to adjust the length.
The idea is that these leg stretchers act as a pulley, using your own resistance and upper body strength to pull your leg into positions that you may not be able to achieve without assistance.
How Do You Use a Leg Stretcher? – Explained in Five Steps
Most leg stretchers on the market are over-the-door leg stretchers and are used in similar ways. Leg stretchers can be used to stretch your legs to the front, side, back, and in other positions, like scorpions.
For this example of how to use an over-the-door leg stretcher, we’ll use the Ever Stretch Leg Stretcher but keep in mind that there may be some variations on the setup depending on the brand you use.
Step 1 – Attach the Anchor To the Door
Put the door anchor over any sturdy door, and close the door so that the anchor is on the back of the door, and the D-ring hangs down on the side you will be stretching on. If you are short, you may need some help!
Step 2 – Attach the Strap to the D-Ring
Pull the separate strap through the D-ring evenly, so you can hold both sides. Give it a tug to be sure it’s sturdy before putting your weight into it.
Step 3 – Adjust the Loop of the Strap
Use the metal buckle to adjust the size of the loop to fit your preference. Now your over-the-door leg stretcher is ready to use!
Step 4 – Insert Your Foot Into the Loop
Choose which side you will be stretching, and insert that foot into the loop while holding the other side of the strap in your hands. It may be helpful to stand with your back against the door for forward and side stretches to help with balance.
Step 5 – Pull the Strap Down to Stretch Leg
Keeping your working leg straight, pull down on the other side of the strap. This will create a pulley effect, lifting your working leg up in whichever direction you’ve chosen. Work your hands up the strap as far as you can go until your leg has reached its maximum stretch. Hold for the amount of time you can tolerate.
Is Using a Leg Stretcher Safe?
Using an over-the-door leg stretcher can be safe for nearly everyone, except for beginner and young dancers. The reason it’s not very safe for beginners is that using a leg stretcher requires a fair amount of balance and established flexibility already. Beginner dancers would be better off stretching on the floor and at the barre before attempting to use a leg stretcher.
More advanced dancers still need to use caution when using a leg stretcher. Ensuring that the door is sturdy, standing on a non-slippery surface, and stopping when you feel pain are all good things to remember when using a leg stretcher.
The benefits of stretching to the point of maximum flexibility need to be countered with strengthening, so always include strengthening exercises alongside your flexibility routines.
What Is the Best Over Door Anchored Leg Stretcher?
The best over door anchored leg stretcher for us at Dance Parent 101 was the EverStretch Leg Stretcher tested by the website creator Samantha and her daughters. It is the stretcher used in the images for this post.
All the stretchers bought were comparable but you do want one that is constructed well, with thick material making up the straps, a heavy, padded anchor that creates enough resistance and doesn’t damage the door and is comfortable to use.
‘The EverStretch was chosen as the best because it had the padding which made it more comfortable to use, ticking all of the boxes that Lesley wrote were important in a leg stretcher. The others we trialed were very similar but were slightly more budget-conscious if that is more important to you!’
Samantha Creator of Dance Parent 101
A comparison article and video should be available soon, so be sure to check those out soon!
Is Using a Leg Stretcher Better Than Just Stretching?
Using a leg stretcher can be better than just stretching alone – but not in place of stretching in other ways. Leg stretchers allow you to achieve a range of motion that is not possible in other kinds of stretching. Using a leg stretcher adds resistance, and is safer than some other forms of stretching with apparatuses because you are ultimately the one in control of how far you take your stretch.
How Can I Stretch Without a Leg Stretcher?
Dancers have been stretching for hundreds of years without leg stretchers, so simply go back to basics if you don’t have a leg stretcher! Stretches such as the runner’s lunge series, seated split stretching in all directions, and safe partner stretching can all help with flexibility in a similar way to the way a leg stretcher helps.
Additionally, if you want to use an apparatus to help with stretching, you may already have something in your home that you can use safely! Yoga straps from Mom’s yoga practice, TRX bands from Dad’s workouts in the garage, sturdy jump ropes, Therabands, or even simply a towel can be used to mimic similar stretches to the over-the-door leg stretchers without purchasing another product.
There is no doubt that dance requires a certain amount of flexibility, and using products like over-the-door leg stretchers can be helpful when used correctly to achieve your body’s maximum stretch. However, these products aren’t the only way to stretch well, so don’t be afraid to try the alternatives before making the investment in a leg stretcher.