Why should you stretch your Quadriceps muscles?

The Quadriceps are the muscles in the front of the thigh. They are commonly referred to as the quads. These muscles are responsible for extending the knee, when stepping forward, kicking and climbing stairs. They get a lot of use and deserve a good stretch.

Tight Quadriceps are a common cause of knee pain. Keeping the Quadriceps muscles flexible helps decrease the wear and tear on the knee cap and knee joints in general. Flexible Quadriceps are more elastic. This increased elasticity decreases the compressive forces on the knee joints. Less compression means less rubbing and wearing away of your joint surfaces. Hence, less pain due to arthritis or inflammation of your knee joints.

One of the quadriceps muscles (the rectus femoris) also functions as a hip flexor. It attaches to the front aspect of the pelvic bone. When tight, it can tilt the pelvis forward.

This causes an increased lower back arch (lordosis). This increased lordosis is a common contributor to low back pain.

In summary, we have a group of muscles that when tense or tight can cause pain in the knee and the back.

How to Stretch Your Quadriceps Muscles

picture demonstrating quadriceps muscle stretch

  • Stand next to a chair or wall.
  • Grasp the ankle, with the hand on the same side, and pull it back and up.
  • Keep the leg you are stretching parallel to the leg you are standing on. DO NOT flare your leg out.
  • Keep the knee on which you are standing slightly bent.
  • Maintain an upright posture. DO NOT arch your back nor lean forward.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds . 
  • Repeat same for other side
  • Stretch each side 3 times

It is important to note that you should feel only a comfortable stretch in the front of your thigh

Alternate Stretch (if you cannot reach your hand to your ankle)

picture of Quadricep stretch demonstrated with chair

If you are unable to hold your ankle and keep a good posture, you can place your ankle on a bench or chair, as in picture to the left. Place pillows or blankets on the chair to make it the right height for a comfortable stretch.

 

 

 

About the Author

Domenic Lopez B.Sc., is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Healthy Moves, a private practice where massage therapy and movement education help you achieve better living.

Disclaimer
Suggestions made in this blog are no substitute for medical advice. If you have any pain or difficulty performing this stretch seek advice from your appropriate health professional.