Quadriceps stretch: 5 benefits and how to do it right

Why do a regular quadriceps stretch?

This muscle group is made up of 4 muscles located on the front of the thigh:

  • Vastus lateralis or Vastus lateralis
  • Vast Intermediate
  • vastus medialis
  • Right femoral or right anterior

They do a tremendous job in your daily activities. It's one of the strongest muscle groups in the body and carries a lot of weight in many everyday movements.

Every day, we constantly call on these powerful muscles that ensure the extension of the knee. They are used when getting up from a chair, climbing stairs or crouching down to pick up something. Not to mention that they are extraordinarily important in the majority of sports.

The Achilles heel of the quadriceps

Well, it was too tempting to talk about achilles heel when referring to thighs, but I can't resist a pun 😉

It is precisely their almost permanent use that makes these muscles major so susceptible to stress and injury, especially as we age. Healthy quadriceps are crucial at any age, and they are especially important for preventing knee or back problems.

In other words, strong and flexible quadriceps protect you and help you retain the ability to perform your daily tasks well into your old age.

To keep them soft and flexible, a stretch routine is essential. And one of the best moves you can do is the standing thigh stretch. It will help you lengthen stiff leg and hip muscles. You will also improve your balance and reduce lower back pain. This is especially important if you work sitting down for many hours.

But you don't have to get gray to try this quadriceps stretch. The benefits are significant regardless of your age.

It's good to keep it simple, so today I present to you one of the best quadriceps stretching exercises. The advantage is that you can do it just about anywhere, including your workplace.

When to do a stretch

quadriceps stretch

In fact, you can do the standing quadriceps stretch anytime and anywhere. According to Pete McCall, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, this is best done as part of a post-workout stretching session. But I do not share this opinion for resistance exercises.

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Stretching immediately after a weight training session is not recommended due to the risk of injury related to the micro tears that the effort generates in the muscles. Stretching too close to exertion can aggravate the aches, and even increase the risk of breakdown or tearing.

However, the quadriceps can do a lot of work during a session, and holding a static stretch sends a signal to the muscle fibers to relax, which is necessary for some athletes.

If you like to stretch, I recommend you wait 2 hours after your session of muscle strengthening before stretching the quadriceps.

Outside of sports, a stretching can only do you good, whatever the time of day.

How to Do Quad Stretches

These muscles are arguably some of the easiest to stretch in one motion. Here's how to go about it:

Description and video of the movement

  • Stand on your left leg, chest straight. Place your left hand on something to keep your balance, such as the back of a chair, a piece of furniture or against a wall.
  • Bend your right knee, raising your heel towards your buttocks and grab your ankle with your right hand. Gently bring your heel towards your buttocks. You should feel a slight tension along the front of your thigh and hip.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Switch sides and do the same to bring the left heel towards your buttocks with the hand on the same side.
  • Repeat the exercise 2-3 times with each leg.

Here is a video example to help you understand:

Variation of the exercise

Do you struggle to stand on one leg, even with support?

This stretch will be less difficult if you do it on the floor. This will allow you to concentrate on stretching your quadriceps without worrying about losing your balance.

Here's how:

  • Lie on your side with your body in a straight line.
  • Bend your lower arm and rest your head on it for support.
  • Bend the knee of your top leg and, using your free hand, gently pull your heel towards your buttocks following the same recommendations as for the standing version.

And There you go !

A good stretch for aging well

It is true that we cannot do everything and that the days are not infinite. Sometimes you have to settle for what gives you the most benefits in the least amount of time.

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Well, this stretching exercise is one of those that you need to keep as long as possible because of its many benefits on your body. Here are a few :

1. Relaxation of the quadriceps

As said before, you need your quadriceps on a daily basis for many movements like walking, climbing stairs, standing up and countless activities of daily living.

But your quadriceps can get tense due to overtraining, poor posture or lack of exercise. And it can reduce their ability to stabilize the knee and control the legs for walking or running.

As we age, we also tend to move less, so it's common for the quadriceps to lose flexibility and flexibility. Fortunately, you can soften and promote the relaxation of these muscles stiffened by targeted stretching.

The standing quadriceps stretch applies pulling force to this muscle group, which can reduce overall thigh tension. In addition, it promotes blood circulation and the functioning of the muscles concerned.

2. Hip flexor stretch

This stretching exercise not only stretches the quadriceps responsible for controlling knee movement. It causes stretching of the iliopsoas which can be contracted by excessive periods of sitting. That's why I particularly recommend it during your office hours when you take a break. 

As we tend to become more sedentary with age, tight hips are often a problem for older people. Also, stiff and inflexible hip flexors can have other consequences on the body such as knee problems and lower back pain.

Which brings us to the next benefit…

3. Stretching the quadriceps can relieve the back

It may seem surprising, but stretching the front of the thighs also helps reduce back pain in general.

The reason for this is that when the hip flexor muscles are too tight (the rectus femoris or rectus femoris of the quadriceps also participates in hip flexion), they can change the position of the pelvis and cause lower back pain.

And back problems are especially common among aging adults. In fact, low back pain is one of the most debilitating health problems in adults aged 60 or older, according to a April 2017 medical report published on the American site of the NCBI (in English).

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4. Reduced risk of cruralgia

Cruralgia is nerve pain or neuralgia related to compression or pinching of the crural or femoral nerve. The sensations follow a characteristic path that goes from the lower back to the front of the thigh passing through the groin. They are the consequence of inflammation of the nerve.

The principle is the same as for sciatic pain, except that here it passes through the front of the thigh instead of the buttock.

It's not the only movement that can relieve this pain, but the dynamic stretching of the quadriceps helps release pressure from the crural nerve. If you have cruralgia, try holding the stretch for only 3-5 seconds and doing up to 20 reps per leg. But do not insist if the pain is intense.

5. Improved balance

As this quadriceps stretch requires standing on one leg, it helps to improve balance.

And you need good balance for just about every day-to-day movement, including walking. Indeed, walking is a process of transition from one leg to the other. Improving balance can therefore help improve overall gait performance.

This is not the most important point of the 4, but it must be taken into account, especially when you get older.

Quadriceps Stretch – Conclusion

You will probably have understood it, or else I explained myself badly 😅, but stretching the standing quadriceps should be part of your everyday routine. And this, whatever your age or your sports habits.

It's a quick and easy way to keep that muscle group healthy for as long as possible. And you must not forget the benefits of this stretching movement on the hips and lower back pain.

Let me know what you think or ask your questions by leaving a message in the comments area below. THANK YOU !

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Related words: stretches activo external quadriceps triceps surae vastus medialis vastus medialis of the quadriceps eccentric stretch of the quadriceps quadriceps of the rear thigh retroversion of the pelvis abdominal breathing static movements

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