Stretching pt 7- Quads

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In the introduction post to this series, we reviewed and answered some common questions regarding stretching, including why, when, how, etc. Click here to review it.

In this post we will be talking about stretches specifically for the front of the thigh. This includes the lower hip flexor and the quadricep muscles.

The Rules:

1) Stretching should NEVER hurt. The goal is to only go until you feel a pull in the muscle. It should not be to go until it hurts in one of those “no pain, no gain” efforts. It should be comfortable and repeatable, allowing you to move a little further with each repetition.2) Perform stretches when the muscles are warmed up. This can be following a workout or following work with the foam roller. Click here to review the self massage post for the front of the thigh/quad (this includes pictures and video using a foam roller and tennis ball to review 3 self muscle release techniques).

2) Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times. You can hold longer than the 20 seconds, but the reps are key. You will always get more out of stretching frequently versus one killer session a week.

3) If hurt- be sure to stretch the opposing muscle groups. For the front of the thigh, this means the back of the thigh (hamstrings), the inner thigh (adductors), and the back of the calf (gastroc and soleus). If it is too painful to stretch out the front of the thigh do to injury, focus on these groups instead and work your way up  to stretching the injury itself. Always start at level 1 and work you way up.

The Progression:

#1 Traditional standing stretch.


This is the easiest way to start stretching the quad/front of the thigh. The hip is in neutral, meaning that the upper quad (which also helps to flex the hip joint) is not stretched out over two joints (the hip and knee). The key in this stretch is to keep the leg you are stretching completely relaxed. Keep your abs nice and tight (to keep your hips/pelvis level) and pull your ankle up until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. If you can’t get your foot up as high as the picture above. No problem. Use a belt or dog leash or stretching strap and wrap it around your ankle. Then pull up on the strap versus your ankle itself. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

#2 Half kneeling

This stretch progresses to stretching the quads out over both the hip and knee. Start by moving into the lunge position. The key here is to keep your abs tight and your hips level (it’s very easy to arch your back in this position). From here pull your ankle up (you can use a strap like above) and then push your hips forward. The goal is to feel this stretch from the front of you hip all the way down the front of your thigh. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

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