The best quad stretches to relieve tight and tense thigh muscles

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We use our quads for a lot of activities – here’s how to stretch them out. 

Most lower body exercises, such as squats and lunges, will target and tear our quadricep muscles, those at the front of our thighs. But 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

So, with training and every day movement engaging our thighs, they’re getting worked a lot. But 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 three favourite exercises that she recommends doing daily to loosen the quad muscles, reduce pain and improve your range of motion. 

Kneeling quad stretch:

Take a low lunge position with your left foot forward and your right knee on the floor. Reach back with your right arm and grab your ankle or foot, pulling it gently in towards your bottom. Move your hips slightly forward to increase the hip flexor stretch as well as deepening the quad stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then release the leg back down and switch sides.

Kneeling quad stretch
The best quad stretch: kneeling stretch

World’s greatest IT band stretch:

This stretch targets the iliotibial band (known as the IT band) which is found on the outside of the leg. Lie on your side with your knees stacked on top of each other. Bend your top knee and grab your ankle – you should feel a tightness in the quadriceps muscle when doing this. Pull back a bit, then place your bottom foot on the side of your top knee. Gently pull the foot on your knee towards the floor, elongating the outside part of your top thigh. Hold for 15-20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Double quad stretch:

This one is my favourite! Kneel down with your knees approximately hip distance apart and your bum lifted off your ankles. Lean back so your hands are on the floor behind you and create lengthening of the quads by pushing the hips forward. To deepen the stretch you can bend your elbows to lower a bit further down but keep the hips up and don’t allow the bum to touch your heels. Hold for 30 seconds then 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. To do this, place the foam roller just above one knee, with your hands supporting your weight in front of you and the other leg turned out to the side. Slowly start to roll up your leg, allowing most of your bodyweight to fall into the quad muscle. 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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Images: Getty

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