Stretching is an essential but often overlooking part of maintaining a healthy, fit body.
Many people struggle with tight muscles, especially in the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. This impairs their ability to function normally and can lead to very serious long term problems.
Investing in the best leg stretching machine will allow you to progressively improve your flexibility safely and effectively.
In this article, we reveal the 5 best stretching machines on the market today.
The Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine is an extremely impressive full body stretching machine.
This is one of those machines that actually delivers more features than the high end models but at a budget price. Those features include 7 position seat adjustment, 3 position calf stretch station, removable back support and dual approach handles.
The Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine is inexpensive, lightweight and versatile. Its high level of functionality and low price point easily puts it in our Number One slot.
Our Stretching Machine OVERVIEW
What Is A Stretching Machine?
A stretching machine is a device that helps you to stretch in order to improve your flexibility. There are a number of different types of stretchers, including those that have seats and handles and are able to stretch the entire body. Other stretchers are designed just for the legs and provide you with a turning wheel to increase the stretch gradually. Then there are door anchor devices that provide you with a portable way to stretch your legs.
Who Should Use a Leg Stretcher?Legs stretching machines are most often used by martial artists, dancers, gymnasts and ballet dancers. However, stretching with one of these machines will benefit everybody. They are especially beneficial for regular exercisers as they will help to overcome delayed onset muscle soreness and improve muscle strength. It should be noted, however, that static stretching, which is what you do with a stretching machine, should not be done before exercise. Even though this used to be recommended, some recent studies have clearly shown that doing static stretching before a workout will actually reduce your muscular strength.
Benefits Of A Home Stretching Machine
Having a stretching machine in your home will allow you to give proper effort and time to this important aspect of overall fitness. Here are 6 ways that you will benefit from investing in your own home use stretching machine:
The whole point of having a stretching machine is to improve your flexibility. The more flexible you are, the more a functional human being you will be!
Motivation to Stretch
Stretching is one of these things that we tend to take for granted. Even when you do make the effort, often we only give a token effort. But when you’ve got a stretching machine staring at you every day, your motivation to stretch will be much greater. A home stretching machine is always on hand, so that you can use it rain or shine.
The added resistance that you can get from a stretching machine will allow you to apply the gentle pressure you need to make progressive improvement on your stretches. To improve flexibility you need to follow the same progressive overload principle as you do in the weight room.
Improving your flexibility will improve your posture but using a stretching machine can also enhance posture while you are stretching. When you stretch with a machine it is easy to overstretch and compromise your posture, balance and coordination. Using an adjustable, customizable stretching machine will overcome this problem.
Reduces Injury Risk
A stretching machine will encourage you into the proper biomechanical bodily alignment. This will help to avoid injury. Then the more you stretch, the less prone to injury you will be in general.
If you are a regular exerciser then you are familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS). This is the muscle soreness that you feel after a workout. Stretching can help to lessen the effects of DOMS. Some stretching machines actually include a heating pad which will further lessen the muscle soreness.
Types Of Stretching Machines
The three types of stretching machines that are most common are:
- Full Body Stretch Machines
- Lower Body Stretching Machines
- Spinal Stretching Machines
A full body stretching machine is designed to stretch all of your major muscles. The emphasis is on the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, quads and hamstrings. These machines may look somewhat like an exercise bike, with a padded seat and handles that you grab to facilitate the stretch.
Lower body stretching machines put the emphasis on the quads and hamstrings. They allow you to gently and progressively increase the stretch through the hamstrings as you work towards a 180 degree split position. They typically have a centrally located wheel that allows you to increase the tension of the wheel similar to how a medieval torture rack worked in the bad old days!
Spinal stretch machines are excellent for stretching out the entire spinal column, improving posture and bringing relief from back pain.
Stretching Machine Buying Guide
When you are in the market for a leg stretching machine, there are half a dozen things that you need to be on the lookout for. Let’s drill down on them:
Let’s face it - stretching is probably not the most inviting part of your day. So, if the process is uncomfortable, there is a pretty good chance that you won’t do it. Of course, you will feel a degree of gentle stretching pain while you do the move. But you shouldn’t expect to have to put up with extra comfort pain. You can avoid this by looking for a stretcher that has a good deal of padding, especially around the glutes and knees.
You’ll be resting your skin on the device for quite some time, so you will want an outer surface that feels good against your body. Check user reviews to assess the comfort level of the device you are considering purchasing. The material should be sweat and slip resistant.
A good leg stretching machine will be simple, solid and light. That combination will allow you to use it consistently year after year while also being able to transport it with you to your workout venue.
The leg stretch machine should provide you with the ability to easily adjust your degree of stretch. The best machines will provide adjustments up to 180 degrees. The adjustment between the angle positions needs to be smooth and natural.
We are all excited when a new purchase arrives on the doorstep. But that enthusiasm can quickly dampen when we find ourselves struggling for hours to put the thing together. All manufacturers will claim easy assembly so look at the user reviews to see how real life buyer’s found the process. Ideally, your leg stretcher should turn up fully assembled or very close to it.
The best leg stretcher machines will provide you with wrist straps. These help you to maintain your stretching position without losing your grip on the frame.
The experience of people who have already purchased the item is invaluable. As well as looking for their overall experience with the machine, check for specific issues such as missing parts, jerkiness of movement and issues with shipping, as well as their customer service experience.
You should expect your stretching machine to work for many years, even when you use it on a daily basis. As a result, the product should come with a decent warranty. So, what is a decent warranty? We suggest that 5 years is a good length of time to expect from the manufacturer.
Top 5 Stretching Machines Reviewed
Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine
The Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine is a budget option that packs a powerful punch. In fact, the innovations on this machine make it better than many that are more expensive. The Nitrofit provides you with a range of seat positions (7 in total), dual approach handles, 3 calf stretch positions and an integrated wheel design. The display panel features 9 illustrated exercises. The front support legs of this machine provides you with transport wheels to make it easy to move around your home.
This is the only stretch machine to give you 7 stretch seat positions. The ergonomic design of the Nitrofit allows you to get ideal stretch positioning. Another unique feature of this machine is the removable calf stretch board. The adjustability of the machine makes it suitable for people of all shapes and sizes.
This machine weighs just 56 pounds, making it easy to move around. The dimensions of 50.5cm x38.5cm x 22.4cm also make for a compact unit that will work with confined workout space. The machine comes with a back support brace, however its use is optional. If you don’t use it, the maximum user weight is 250 pounds. With the back support, the maximum weight allowance is 300 pounds.
The Nitrofi is suitable for beginners and experienced stretchers alike. Your purchase is supported by a 2-year warranty.
- Great price
- 7 position seat adjustment.
- 3 position calf stretch
- 9 illustrated exercises
- Dual approach handles
Cons:Warranty limited to 2 years
Pro Leg Stretcher
The Pro Leg Stretcher is a solid and durable leg stretcher. It is constructed of solid steel, with a plastic turning wheel. The unit is light enough for easy transport around your home. The back, seat and leg areas are well padded for comfort and covered with high quality upholstery that is sweat and slip resistant.
The centrally located wheel of the Pro Leg Stretcher allows you to stretch to beyond 180 degrees. The self locking turn wheel is also removable. You will find that the stretch movement is natural, fluid and jerk free to provide for progressive stretch and flexibility improvement.
The Pro Leg Stretcher arrives on your doorstep fully assembled, so you can start stretching as soon as you unbox it. The max user weight on the unit is 235 pounds. It should also be noted that the Pro Leg Stretcher should not be used on carpet or rugs.
- Smooth, natural action
- Priced well
- Fluid movement
- Foam padding
- Plastic wheel
Precor 240i Commercial Series StretchTrainer
The Precor 240i Commercial Series Trainer is a machine that is designed to stretch your back, quads, hamstrings and hips, although it also works the upper and lower back and shoulders. The design is similar to an exercise bike with a padded seat, handlebars and console. A placard on the console shows you how to do the 8 main stretches with this machine.
The Precor 240i has been shown in scientific studies to significantly increase flexibility of the major muscle groups after 30 days of use. This is a commercial grade machine that is made from heavy duty steel tubing. Your comfort is assured with thick padding on the seat and handlebars. Despite its rigid strength, the Precor 240i is surprisingly light and easy to move around your home.
A real strength of this machine is its easy learning curve and ease of use. When you do your stretches on the Precor 240i, you virtually can’t get the stretches wrong! This machine is a little tricky to put together but two people should be able to get the job done in around 30 minutes. On the plus side, your purchase comes with a comprehensive assembly video.
The Precor 240i is a relatively expensive unit. However, if you are suffering from inflexibility related pain or injury, or simply want the best overall stretching machine on the market, then this is the one for you.
- Works entire body
- User friendly
- Includes assembly video
EverStretch Leg Stretcher
The Everstretch Leg Stretcher is a flexible strap that connects to your doorway to provide you with an inexpensive way to improve your leg flexibility. It is an excellent tool for dancers, martial artists and others who are wanting to improve their hamstring stretching ability. To use the Everstretch leg stretcher, you simply put the door anchor over a sturdy door post, shut the door and then pull the strap through the anchor ring with the ther strap end looped around your ankle.
The strapping used on this device is extremely durable, being made of 150 gr cotton. The ring through which the strap passes is made of 6mm solid metal, while a bolted metal plate on the door anchor keeps it firmly in place. The design of the door anchor ensures that there will be no scuffing or other damage to your door or surrounds.
Your purchase of the Everstretch Leg Stretcher is backed by a pretty amazing lifetime money back guarantee. A 28 page instruction booklet also comes with your purchase to guide you through a stretching program.
- Very inexpensive
- Can be used anywhere
- High grade cotton strapping
- Lifetime guarantee
- Does not come with a DVD
RDX Leg Stretcher
The RDX Leg Stretcher is a simple 3 bar stretching machine that is ideal for martial artists, ballet dancers and gymnasts. The device consists of a central handlebar along with two leg extension bars that have soft foam handles on their ends. This device is made from welded 16 gauge powder coated steel to provide strength and durability. There are 5 hole adjustments to provide a range of stretching positions. The RDX Leg Stretcher has been treated with red oxide anti rust treatment.
The RDX Leg Stretcher is a simple, inexpensive device that is effective and portable. You can easily carry this with you to the gym or studio or use it at home.
- Welded 16 gauge steel construction
- Anti rust treatment
- No turning wheel
The best overall stretching machine on the market today is the Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine. This is a budget full body stretcher that provides you with everything you get with more expensive models and more.
Our favorite leg stretcher is the Pro Leg Stretcher, which provides you with a smooth, jerk free motion, the ability to stretch to more than 180 degrees and a solid, durable construction.
When it comes to portable door anchor hamstring stretchers, our top pick is the Everstretch Leg Stretcher, which provides you with a durable cotton strap, solid door anchor and simple yet effective leg stretching system.
Overview Of Stretching
Stretching improves flexibility, which is the range of motion around a joint. The more flexible you are, the more functionally efficient you will be. Your muscles will be looser and less filled with tension when you are flexible. This will reduce your possibility of injury and result in fewer muscle cramps post workout.
The more flexible you are, the better your posture will be. The enhanced range of motion that more flexible people enjoy allows them to walk, stand and run in a more biomechanically ideal way. Flexible muscles are also more efficient. You will be more agile and better coordinated. This will make you more effective on the sports field as well as in everyday life.
How flexible should you be?
You should be flexible enough to meet the everyday demands that you will meet in your life, along with a little bit extra. That extra amount is known as your ‘flexibility reserve.’ On the other hand, if you do not have enough flexibility to meet your everyday needs, this is known as your ‘flexibility deficit.’
Types of Stretches
Static stretching is the most common type of stretching. There are two types of static stretches:
- Static-active stretching
- Static-passive stretching
Static active stretching involves slowly moving to the total extent of a joint’s range of motion. When you to get the furthest point for you, then hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Static passive stretching involves working with a partner, who gently puhe your muscle to help you to get your full range of motion. You don’t want to jerk or bounce as this takes place but rather you should be relaxed and gently go with it.
Dynamic stretching involves doing active movements that replicate the activity you will be doing in your sport or workout. Rather than holding a static position, you swing the body part. When doing dynamic stretches, use a fluid, rhythmic motion. You should also not take the muscle through its full range of motion. You should also never stretch a muscle before it is warmed up.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF stretching involves going through a sequence that include both contracting and stretching a muscle. PNF stretching ahs shown to be among the best ways to increase range of motion and flexibility.
PNF stretching relies on the stretch reflex of the myotendinous unit by activating mechanoreceptors within the muscle called muscle spindle units and Golgi tendon organs. Muscle spindles help to regulate overall muscle length and tone by activating gamma motor neurons by way of the stretch reflex.
The initial isometric contraction (hold) phase of the PNF stretch lasts for 8 seconds at 40 percent maximal contraction. You repeat this 4 times then. on the 5th contraction, you hold the position for 15 seconds. With each repetition you slightly increase the stretch position.
How Long Should I Stretch?
The length of stretch hold depends on the type of stretch you are doing. For dynamic stretching, you should do between 5-10 swings of the dynamic stretch movement. A static stretch should be held for a minimum of 20 seconds. It should take between 2-3 minutes to stretch each muscle group, with a total stretch time of no more than 20 minutes.
Do not hold your breath when stretching. Doing so will increase your blood pressure and cause tension in the muscle. Simply breathe naturally and instinctively.
There are some commonly performed static stretches that you should not do. Top of the list is the straight legged toe touch. This move can be harmful to the spine. Stretching over fully from the waist as you do with this stretch primarily stretches your ligaments rather than the muscles of your spine or hamstrings.
Other stretches that people commonly do to stretch the hamstrings are equally ineffective. These include the seated toe touch and the hurdler stretch.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully by now you’ve got a good idea which is the best stretching machine. Be sure to check out our overview of best weight benches, to help you crush your legs with some jump overs and weighted step ups.
If you have any questions regarding anything we’ve discussed in this article, or even have any you’d like to suggest, please feel free to get in touch in the comment section below.
Thanks for stopping by.