The stretching equipment used to target specific muscle groups vary, though the best equipment choices will result in the most thorough stretch that forces the least amount of strain and stress. Targeting muscles, joints and ligaments within the legs will not provide a difficult challenge when at home or at the gym. Simple devices, along with more complex machinery, offer some of the safest and most effective leg stretches.
Hitting the Target
Before each leg work out, know exactly what exercises you want to do. This allows you to understand what leg muscles need a little more attention during stretching. Basically, one machine or piece of equipment will not do the trick. Multiple stretches with different pieces of equipment will result in the most thorough stretching routine, plus reduce the risk of injury.
The Right Equipment
Choose a machine that will be a part of the intended exercise routine to stretch with. I find leg press machines to be one of the best options for a "full" leg stretch. Most leg pressing machines offer a compound muscle exercise, targeting several muscles and not just one.
In order to stretch the back of your legs, use a simple light weight bar or a set of dumbbells to add resistance in a simple toe touching motion. Other helpful pieces of equipment found at home offer great stretching aids, too. When the gym closes on holidays, you can use a sturdy chair for step ups and touch squats; these serve as both exercises and stretches, but the chair or a stepping stool both offer useful pieces of equipment.
If you want to implement more cardiovascular exercises into a workout, starting off the routine with a jump rope session helps get the blood flowing and the calves burning; depending on the speed, height and foot angle of the jumps, different muscles feel the stretch. If you're trying to prepare for a contest, you can increase the use of cardio machines for stretching and warm up even more. The advancements in treadmills, elliptical and stepping machines provide plenty of options for stretches and muscle targeting. Running loosens your legs, but sometimes leaves them feeling like jelly, and this presents a problem if you plan on having a demanding leg workout; saving the running or jogging until after solves this problem. Instead of running on the treadmill before working out, walk at a steep incline or take long strides at a slower speed. Other specific machines like the stair stepper provide a great calf stretch. Partner the use of cardio machines with equipment assisted stretches for the best possible warm up.
Always select machines and equipment specifically targeted at the major muscle groups that will endure the most repetitions during a workout. Properly reading the diagrams provided on the machines will give detailed information on how to reach the best form, ultimately providing the best stretch. Never try straining alone; using a guided machine or a simple household device provides safety and ensures the reduction of serious injury.