5 Quad Stretches to Help you Become Unstoppable
Thinking of starting a quad-quaking training session? Then you’ll need to stretch.
Powerful quads can help you to keep your balance while sparring, ensure safety during weight lifting, and maintain stamina during a long run. Just like any other important muscle in the body, your quadriceps can easily suffer from injury.
The benefits of stretching are indisputable. Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance and rehabilitating after sprains or injuries. Not only does stretching increase your flexibility and range of motion, but it also improves circulation, reduces your risk of injury and stiffness, and boosts your ability to perform during various exercises.
Since tight quadriceps can lead to back and knee pain, a few minutes of stretching can save you from a weekend of agony on the couch. That’s why we always recommend a thorough dynamic stretching warm-up before any of our Gloveworx training sessions, followed by a static cooldown after.
The Importance of a Great Quad Stretch
Whether you’re getting ready for an hour of high-intensity leg work or you’re working specifically on building your quadricep muscles, the right post-workout stretch session is crucial if you want to get the most out of your workout. Additionally, dynamic stretching during a warm-up before a boxing match helps to improve versatility and movement in your muscles so that you can dance around your opponent, avoid blows, and deliver more power with your hits.
The primary function of the quadriceps is to help with knee motion. You have four separate muscles that make up the quadriceps: your rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and the vastus lateralis. You use your quads whenever you straighten and bend your knee joint. Your quads are involved in almost every movement of your leg, working alongside other muscles like the hamstrings, and the glutes to promote efficient running, jumping, and balance. Some common quad exercises include squats, the leg press and lunges; basically, quadricep exercises are anything that gets the slow-twitch muscle fibers or fast-twitch fibers in your leg muscles moving.
Our quadricep muscles can easily become inflamed, painful, and tight with frequent use. You may even experience quadriceps tendinopathy, which is inflammation of the tendons connecting your quadricep muscles to your knee joint. Quadriceps tendinopathy can cause knee pain during exercises or daily living activities that incorporate knee extension and knee flexion, such as bending over and picking something up.
Overcompensation from a quadricep issue can cause knee pain, and even lead to a condition called Chondromalacia patellae, or "runner's knee." As all of your quadricep muscles, especially the rectus femoris, play a key role in knee flexion and knee extension, it's essential to make time for quadricep stretches. And don't even get us started on the importance of a good hamstring stretch. Stretching your hamstrings is a whole other conversation.
By ensuring you warm up before performing quadricep exercises, and incorporate quadriceps stretches and foam roller work after a workout, you reduce your risk of injury and encourage recovery.
There are two main forms of stretching: static stretching, which includes some of the positions discussed below, and dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching includes movement and is often paired with warm-up exercises like jogging on the spot or jump rope.
Five Killer Quad Stretches to Protect your Muscles
Although there are plenty of forms of static stretching that you can use after a quad exercise to improve the rate at which your muscles repair themselves, the following are some of our favorite options.
Here, Coach Shaq will show you five killer ways to stretch your quad muscles, and the positions you’ll need to use for success.
1. The Lying Quad Stretch
The best quad stretches are those that address not just the quadriceps, but all aspects of your leg, from the hip to the thigh, to the foot. The lying quad stretch is great for people who suffer from knee pain, as well as those who prefer reclining to standing up.
- Lie in a face-down position, propping your head on your left hand. Alternatively, you can lie on your side to perform this stretch.
- After a couple of seconds, pull your right foot toward your butt and bend your left knee to stabilize yourself.
- Hold onto your ankle and maintain the position for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides, pulling your left foot toward your back and bending your right knee.
2. The Simple Quad Stretch
This simple stretch exercise is great for fixing your muscles, anytime, anywhere.
- Stand on your left leg, one knee touching the other. You can hold a chair or the wall to keep you steady if needed.
- Grab your right foot, using your right hand, and pull it towards your butt. Be sure to push your chest up and hips forward. Try not to worry about pushing your foot too close to your backside; your focus should be on feeling the stretch in your quad muscle and pushing your hips forward to get a good hip flexor stretch
- Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.
3. The Kneeling Quad Stretch
A slightly different form of quad stretch, this position will help to loosen the muscles just above the knee joint, increasing mobility and preventing knee pain.
- Start the stretch in a high lunge position, with your left foot forward.
- Carefully drop your right knee to the floor and take a moment to find your balance.
- Once you’re ready, reach back with your right arm, and grab your ankle, or toes, depending on what’s easiest.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds, keeping your body steady.
- Gradually come back into the lunge position and switch from your left foot to your right.
4. The Pigeon Twist
Some of the best quad stretches originate from yoga. This particular pose is a challenging way to stretch not only your quads but your quadratus lumborum (back) as well. It's also a great hip flexor stretch.
- Place a mat on the floor and adjust your body into the downward facing dog position.
- Bring your left knee forward, so that you enter the “Pigeon” pose.
- Reach for your right foot with your right hand and press the sole of your foot towards your hip. You don’t need to touch your hip.
- Now, place your left hand on top of the heel of your right foot and twist to the right. Wrap your right hand around your lower back. If possible, grab onto your upper left thigh, just in front of your hip.
- Stay in this position for about five breaths, then relax.
- Twist your body back towards the left and place your palms either side of your left knee.
This move can be extremely challenging for limited flexibility or mobility. If you're unable to complete the entire sequence, stay at step two. Alternatively, try the modification Coach Shaq shares below, and use this stretch to increase your flexbility and range of motion as you work toward the pigeon twist.
5. The Frog Pose
If you’re looking to stretch out the gluteus maximus and the thighs, then this could be the great stretching pose for you. It will also help to stretch your arms, chest, and shoulder blades.
- Begin by lying on your stomach, propping your torso up on your elbows.
- Bend both of your knees, and reach back to hold onto your feet. You should already feel the stretching at this point.
- Adjust your fingers to point the same way as your toes, then carefully lift up your elbows to point to the ceiling.
- Push your chest up as high as you can.
- Stop the pose completely if you feel any pain in your hip or knee.
- Stay here for five breaths, then relax.
Stretching your Quadriceps
Stretching out your quads might not be the most exciting part of your workout, but it is essential if you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible results. While dynamic stretching before a Gloveworx session will prepare your muscle groups for training, the static stretches that we’ve outlined above can help you to ensure that you recover from workouts faster, and maintain your mobility.
At Gloveworx, we believe in getting the most out of every session. The right quad stretch can give you the power, focus, and flexibility you need to Become Unstoppable, so why not try it for yourself?