Quadriceps stretching exercises

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Quadriceps stretching exercises

The quadriceps, the muscle in the front of your thigh, is one of the most powerful muscles in the body. You use it for all the movements at the gym and in your daily life, such as running, jumping, lunging, and squatting. The more you use it, the shorter it gets, and the risk of injury increases. Often the risk is even higher if there are differences in the strength and flexibility between quadriceps and hamstrings. Therefore, in this post you’ll find all the quadriceps stretching exercises you’ll ever need.

The importance of stretching the quadriceps

Quadricep stretches focus on muscles used in everyday activities, such as walking and climbing stairs. These stretches are very important to perform if you plan to do lower body workouts or cardiovascular exercise.

If the quadriceps are short and tight, there is an increased chance of a muscle tear. It also causes more stress on the knee­cap, which can be pulled out of line and will cause the knee to be much weaker and under constant pressure. Additionally, a shortened quadriceps can pull your pelvis down and affect your back, and because all muscles work together, if one group de­velops problems and imbalances, very soon other muscle groups will follow. Therefore you need to stretch your quadriceps also after the training. These quadriceps stretching exercises will make sure you will avoid all of the above mentioned problems.

You can do a simple standing stretch, but the kneel­ing quadriceps stretch is more effective because it stabilizes the knee and hips in a fixed position and in an extended distance. It is difficult to cheat in this stretch and therefore you may find it very hard at first, but with a regular practice and determination, your quadriceps will get long and supple in no time.

Top 8 quadriceps stretching exercises

Here we will outline eight simple exercises that can help improve mobility and flexibility of the quads.

QUADRICEP STRETCH 1: Seated quadriceps stretch

Sit and place your left foot in front, knee pointing sideways. Place your right foot behind, knee pointing to the side. Place your left hand beside you for support. Grasp your right foot with your right hand. Pushing your hips forward, use your right hand to slightly pull your foot toward your buttocks to feel a stretch in your right quadricep and hip flexor. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

quadriceps stretch 1

QUADRICEP STRETCH 2: Lying quadriceps stretch

Lie on your left side and rest your head in your left hand. Bend your left leg for support. Bend your right leg and grasp the top of your right foot with your right hand behind you. Pushing your hips forward, use your right hand to slightly pull your foot toward your head to feel a stretch in your right quadricep and hip flexor. Repeat the exercise with your left leg. If you are not flexible enough to reach back and grasp your foot, you can loop a rope or towel around your foot and hold on to the rope or towel with your hand.

quadriceps stretch 2

QUADRICEP STRETCH 3: Standing quadriceps stretch

Stand facing a wall and position your left hand on the wall for support. Bend your right knee and
grasp the top of your right foot with your right hand behind you. Slightly bend your left knee. Pushing your hips forward, use your right hand to slightly pull your foot up to feel a stretch in your right quadricep and hip flexor. Hold the stretched position for 10 to 20 seconds while breathing normally before moving to the other thigh. Be careful not to arch your lower back excessively. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

quadriceps stretching exercise 3

If you are not flexible enough to reach back and grasp your foot, you can loop a rope or towel around your foot and hold on to the rope or towel with your hand. If you have good balance and flexibility, you can remove your hand from the wall and get a better stretch by placing both hands around your foot.

Standing quadriceps stretch

QUADRICEP STRETCH 4: Standing quadriceps stretch with foot support

Stand with your back to a weight machine or table with your hands on your hips. Bend your right leg
and position the top of your toes on the weight machine or table. Pushing your hips forward, slowly bend your left leg to lower your body to feel a stretch in your right quadricep and hip flexor. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

standing quadriceps stretch with leg support

QUADRICEP STRETCH 5: Resistance band standing quad stretch

Stand up and bend your right leg behind you using a band. Hold the stretched position for a few seconds before moving to the other thigh. Be careful not to arch your back excessively. Instead of using a band, you can also do the stretch manually.

Resistance band standing quad stretch

QUADRICEP STRETCH 6: Quadriceps stretch kneeling double

While on your knees, lean slowly backward, supporting yourself with your hands on the floor. Place your feet far enough apart so they do not interfere with your descent. When you are flexible enough, you can rest your back on the floor, but be careful not to arch your back too much.

quadriceps stretch kneeling double

QUADRICEP STRETCH 7: Lying quad stretch with elastic band

Secure a resistance band around your left foot, with the excess band in a reachable area. If you don’t have a resistance band handy, you can use a towel instead. Grab the band with your left hand. While keeping your right leg extended, bend your left knee, keeping your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Use the resistance band to pull forward until you feel the stretch. Hold for twenty seconds then pull further. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.

lying quad stretch with elastic band

QUADRICEP STRETCH 8: The frog pose

Begin by lying on your stomach, propping your torso up on your elbows. Bend both of your knees, and reach back to hold onto your feet. You should already feel the stretching at this point. If you lack the mobility to do this now, use a towel to fill the gap.

the frog pose quadriceps stretch

Additional notes about quadricep stretches

If you are not very flexible, Quadricep Stretch 1 would be easier to perform. In the seated position, you can easily grab your foot and get into the stretch. Quadricep Stretch 2 is a more relaxing type of stretch that is easy to do if you are already on the floor performing other stretches. Quadricep Stretch 3 and 4 are more advanced stretches for people who are flexible and have good balance.

When performing quadricep stretches, pushing your hips forward is important since one of the quadricep muscles attaches to the pelvis and this movement allows you to fully stretch the entire muscle group so you do not create imbalances. Be careful performing quadricep stretches if you have knee problems.

For a more advanced quadricep stretch, sit on your heels with the front of your lower legs on the floor and your toes pointing back. Place your hands on the floor behind you and lean back as far as you can to get a stretch in your quadriceps and hip flexors.

Final considerations: Quadriceps stretching exercises

Before working your thighs, you need to protect your knees by warming up all the muscles that attach to them. Too often, people consider warming up the quadriceps to be sufficient for a knee warm-up, but this is a mistake!

To avoid knee problems, you must begin by warming up the calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings, in that order. Because the calves are attached to the femurs, it is important to stretch the calves before working the quadriceps or the hamstrings to properly warm up the knee joints. Following this simple rule will prevent or lessen any aches and pains in your knees.

It is also essential to keep your ankles flexible so that you will be able to keep your back as straight as possible during thigh exercises such as squats.

What makes the situation worse is that after your intense prac­tice where you used your quadriceps severely, you sit down for prolonged periods. This will cause the upper part of the quadri­ceps and hip flexors to significantly shorten. Therefore, stretch­ing the quadriceps is particularly important even after the training.

Therefore, post-workout stretching is great for cooling down and helping to maintain flexibility. This is the time for additional static stretching if you would like to work on your range of motion or decrease the amount of stiffness you may get from your workout.

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