We use quads when we squat, stand and walk – here’s how to stretch them out.
Most lower body exercises, such as squats and lunges, will target and tear our quadricep muscles. We also use our quads for every day activities too, which is why simple activities such as walking up the stairs, getting up from a seated position and any form of bending feels so incredibly difficult after leg day. Be honest, have you ever thought that you might be stuck on the toilet forever due to post-leg day DOMS?
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With training and every day movement engaging our thighs, they’re getting worked a lot. As such, we need to think about how to counteract the tightness that this overuse causes, says Emily Mulligan from stretch clinic Flexology: “Through regular activity, we build tension in the quads. Stretches are vital as we use these muscles every day. If you don’t take the time to stretch after activity, you can suffer from reduced mobility, knee pain or even lower back pain.”
So how do we stretch out the quad muscles? Emily has shared her favourite exercises that she recommends doing daily to loosen the quad muscles, reduce pain and improve your range of motion.
- Kneel in front of your sofa or a wall with your toes touching the surface.
- Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you with your knee bent at 90°.
- Push your left leg back so the shin is resting against the sofa or wall, toes pointed towards the ceiling and your knee on the floor.
- Keep your tailbone tucked and your back flat.
- Play with positioning to find the stretch that most opens the front of the hip and the quad by moving your right foot or leaning forwards and backwards.
- Swap sides.
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Kneeling quad stretch:
- Take a low lunge position with your left foot forward and your right knee on the floor.
- Reach backwards with your right arm and grab your ankle or foot, pulling it gently in towards your glute.
- Move your hips slightly forward to increase the hip flexor stretch as well as deepening the quad stretch.
- Release the leg back down and switch sides.
World’s greatest IT band stretch:
- Lie on your left side with your knees stacked on top of each other.
- Bend your right knee so the foot comes towards the glute and grab your ankle.
- Place your left foot on top of your right knee and gently push the foot down.
- Repeat on the other side.
Double quad stretch:
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip distance apart and your hips lifted off your ankles.
- Lean backwards and place your hands on the floor.
- Push your hips forwards, away from your heels, to lengthen the quads.
- If you can, bend your arms to place the forearms on the floor without letting your glutes to touch your heels.
- Gently ease out of the stretch.
Foam rolling the quads
“For really tight quads we also recommend using a foam roller to stimulate the blood flow and relieve muscle tightness,” says Emily.
- Place the foam roller just above one knee, with your hands supporting your weight in front of you. Place the other leg out to the side, so it’s not taking much weight.
- Slowly start to roll so the roller moves up your leg. Allowing most of your bodyweight to be pressed into the roller.
- If you hit a knot, hover over it for a few seconds until you feel it release, and continue with the up and down motions for a few minutes.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).