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Best Quad Stretches

Maybe you have been doing overtime on your leg days, or you have strained a muscle while running, whatever it is, we have listed the best quad stretches that you can do to get back on track.

Quad strains can range from grade 1 to 3, 1 being what many of us may have experienced with discomfort and a reduction in strength ability. However, some quad strains can be serious and pose serious setbacks in your fitness so, to avoid this at all costs add our listed quad muscle stretches into your routine today.

Just before we begin, if you have a passion for fitness, why not start a career in the industry with our level 3 course in sports massage therapy. Alternatively, if you want to sift through all of the fitness courses that we have on offer, download our course prospectus now.

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#1 Standing Quad Stretch 

As one of the most recognisable and popular standing quad stretches, you can count on efficiency and simplicity with this one. It requires no equipment, though you can use a mat to stand on if you wish.

Starting Position

This is among the easy quad stretches to do, so all you need to do is stand with your feet shoulder width apart on or off a mat depending on your personal preference.

Execution

  • With one arm by your side and standing up straight, grasp one foot and pull it into the back of your leg.
  • If you do not feel a stretch, push your hips forward until you feel a successful stretch in your quads.
  • Find a spot on the wall in front of you and focus on it to help your balance.
  • Hold for the recommended duration before returning to the starting position.

Duration: 30 seconds per leg.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pushing the hips too far forward: Standing quad stretches like this one are simple, they don’t need to be made complicated! You should be aware of your posture, keep your back up straight and don’t think about it too much, the push in the hips should be only very slight - not so much that you potentially cause injury.

If you are looking for recovery methods after a leg day, pair these quad stretches with our list of the best calf stretches here.

#2 Side Lying Quad Stretch 

If you’re looking for lying quad stretches to incorporate into your cool down, this is a great option that won’t use up your remaining energy and will help you relax into your cooling down period.

Starting Position

Since this is one of the lying quad stretches, begin by grabbing yourself a mat. Using a mat is useful for comfortability, which helps you to stay in the stretch longer. Lay down on your side and use your fist at a head support, your other arm should be by your side.

Execution

  • Once you are comfortably in the starting position, with your outer free arm, grab your outer foot.
  • Pull this leg back so your knee is bent and the foot is as close to the back of the leg as possible.
  • Keep your other leg out straight and foot flexed to keep your balance.
  • Ensure you are pulling the leg back just enough to feel the stretch, and not any further and hold for the recommended duration of time.

Duration: 30 seconds on each side.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

#3 Prone Quadricep Stretch 

Another one of the popular lying quad stretches is the prone quad stretch, this is great for the end of a strenuous leg day to get you feeling limber and ready for the next day of exercise. You can be certain that with this stretch, you’re ready for the next set of squats.

Starting Position

Begin this stretch by placing a mat on the ground. Though having a mat is optional, we recommend using one for this stretch, or even stretch out on a carpet so you aren’t uncomfortable. Next, lie down on your front with your arms out in front of you. 

Execution

  • Once you are laying down in a prone position, use your left forearm to keep you supported. 
  • With your right arm, reach backward and grab your foot.
  • Pull your foot into your glutes until you feel a stretch in the quad.
  • Hold for the recommended duration of time.

Duration: 30 seconds per leg.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Rocking side to side: Though quad stretches for sore quads can sometimes be uncomfortable, learn the difference between discomfort and pain. Not stabilising your body with your left arm could mean you start to rock, you want to keep the focus on the stretch, if the duration time is too long, simply cut it down. 

After a full body workout, it might not only be your legs that need tlc, so be sure to read our list on the best tricep stretches too.

#4 Quad Foam Roll

Dynamic quad stretches don’t always have to be strenuous or a waste of vital energy, in fact they can be relaxing. By using a foam roller, you can give your quads a well earned massage to really get into any nagging pains. We listed the best foam rollers here to help those investing for the first time!

Starting Position

It would certainly be useful to have a mat for this stretch, as your forearms will be taking some of your weight. Without a mat your elbows could pay the price and the stretch will feel uncomfortable. You should be lying in a plank position with the foam roller underneath your quads.

Execution

  • Begin this stretch by pushing your body forward and then rolling the foam roller to just above the knee.
  • You should then roll back until the foam roller reaches the top of your quads.
  • Repeat this motion for the recommended duration.

Duration: 30 seconds.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Allowing the foam roller under the knee: This is one of the best quad stretches when it is performed correctly, but like anything, there is risk of injury. That's why you should be wary of allowing the foam roller to roll beneath the knees as this would be uncomfortable and disrupt the flow of your stretch.

#5 Rear-Foot-Elevated Quad Stretch

Quad muscle stretches such as this one, require a level of perseverance to see it through. However, you can count on this getting deep into the muscle to soothe any strains. You will need a chair for this stretch, so get your props together and let's get started.

Starting Position

Begin this stretch by standing in front of your chair. Lift your back foot onto the chair so you are forming a lunge position with your knee on the ground. The sole of your foot should be facing upward and your other leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle, your other foot firmly planted on the ground in front.

Execution

  • From the starting position, ensure that your front knee is not leaning further than your foot, and your back knee is on the ground, be sure to reference the video to replicate the position accurately.
  • The quad that is to be stretched is the one leg of which is on the chair, and so by pushing your hips forward ever so slightly, you should start to feel a stretch.
  • Once you feel the stretch in your quad stick to that position and hold for the recommended duration of time. 

Duration: 10 seconds. 

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and the adductors.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pushing the hips too far forward: Stretches for quad strain such as this are useful techniques when performed correctly, however, failing to take your time can increase your risk of injury. With this stretch, everybody’s limits are different and therefore, you should move the hips forward slowly in order to reach a stretch that is comfortable for you and avoid pushing yourself over the limit. 

From head to toe, find some of the best stretches all over the body in our articles below:

#6 Kneeling Quad Stretch

This is one of the quad muscle stretches that may look familiar, as this is a similar position to that of the previous stretch listed above, however, this is more suitable to a gym environment as it doesn't require a chair. In fact, it's also a great option to do at home as you don't need any equipment other than a mat.

Starting Position

We do recommend that you use a mat for this stretch as this ensures that you are not kneeling straight onto a hard floor. It is important to take note of this as this isn’t your typical kneeling position where you would have your shins as a level of support, in this case your knee is taking a lot more pressure. 

You can seriously damage your knees by having so much pressure on your cartilage on an un-padded surface so it's best avoided. Now that you know the importance of a mat, let's get into the position of the stretch. 

Kneel down on one knee, your front leg should be at a 90 degree angle and your back leg supporting you by being on the ground. 

Execution

  • From the starting position, use your outer arm to grab the back leg, this should be the same arm as leg, so if you have your left leg back, grab that foot with your left arm.
  • Once you have grasped your foot, pull it in toward the glutes until you feel a stretch in that leg through the quads.
  • Hold for the recommended time frame.

Duration: 30 seconds each leg.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Allowing the knee to go over the toes: Though it may seem natural to lean forward when you pull in your back leg, it is important to recognise when you have reached your stretch and not to over do it. This is not one of the dynamic quad stretches, so you should try to keep your position once you feel the stretch.

#7 Standing Reach-up Hip Flexor Stretch

Standing quad stretches can look similar, but switching up the variations is a great way to keep your warm ups different each time. Standing stretches like this one are good for a warm up, and leaving the laying down stretches to your cool down is a good idea.

Starting Position

Start this stretch by putting one foot in front of the other, you shouldn’t be in a lunge as your front leg should only have a slight bend and your back leg needs to be straight. Once you feel comfortable in this position, clasp your hands together and reach them above your head.

Execution

  • After finding your balance in the starting position, ensure your back heel is down and your front foot too, then slowly push your hips forward.
  • Once you’re in this position, lean until you feel the stretch in your quad in the back leg.
  • Repeat on both sides for the recommended time duration.

Duration: 30 seconds each side.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Pushing the hips too far forward: Even if you are looking for the best quad stretches for a strain and feel as though a deep stretch is the cure, approach these stretches with caution - slowly does it with this stretch. It is important to look after your muscles when they are in a vulnerable state, so avoid putting too much pressure on them too fast - give them time to rest and heal properly.

If you’re an avid runner you may be used to the odd pull or strain here and there, so we have put together the best stretches for runners: pre and post run here.

#8 Butterfly Pose

There are many quad stretches for sore quads that are easy to conduct and less challenging, but if you are specifically looking to progress your flexibility with measureable success, this one's for you.

Starting Position

Start with a comfortable mat, then sit on the ground with your back up straight and your feet sole to sole. Use your hands to keep them together and pull them inwards as much as you can without discomfort. 

Execution

  • Once you are in the starting position, pull in the feet, this is when you may feel the knees come up so breathe into the stretch and try to release the tension.
  • Then, if your flexibility allows you to, lower the knees to the ground while taking deep breaths. 
  • You can use your elbows to gently press on the thighs to encourage the relaxation into the stretch and the knees to get closer to the ground. 
  • Hold for the recommended duration of time, or as long as you can before this limit.

Duration: 30 seconds.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps and the groin. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Putting force on the knees: This is a stretch that encourages progress. Should you not feel comfortable even in the starting position, we recommend that you come back to this stretch when your flexibility has improved.

This is a popular stretch but it can easily put pressure on muscles so it is vital to get it right and stop if you feel any discomfort.

If pressing gently with the elbows is too much, simply allow your legs to come out further in front of you, still holding the feet. You can then progress by pulling the feet in more and more each time. 

If you are a yoga lover, head over to our article on the 24 types of yoga styles now.

#9 Hero Pose

This is one of the best quad stretches for yoga fanatics. If you consider yourself a yogi, you may have come across this before. This is a popular pose to conduct at the end of a workout, a busy day or simply to relax and get your legs feeling back to optimal condition. 

Remember, yoga has been proven to reduce stress so you can add this into your cool down to wind down, particularly if it's a night workout. One study even found yoga as being a driving factor in reducing stress and impacting positivity on mental health.

Starting Position

Begin this stretch with a mat, you are going to be on your knees and therefore require something that keeps you comfortable for the duration. When trying to relax into a stretch the last thing you need is uncomfort bringing it to an early finish. Once you have your mat, kneel onto it and sit on your calves.

Execution

  • When you feel comfortable in the starting position, shuffle your legs out to either side of you.
  • The top of your feet should be flat on the ground and positioned on each side of your hips.
  • You should sit right down on the ground. If your flexibility doesn’t permit this, grab a yoga block or even a book or two to slip underneath you and sit on this.
  • The lower you can get to the ground the more intense the stretch becomes so test your limits but recognise the signs of what a strain is in comparison to a stretch.

Duration: 30 seconds.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps and the peroneal muscles

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Shifting your legs too far out to the side: The reason that we recommend a yoga block to sit on or something to support you is so that you can progress in this stretch. This way, you can, over time, lower the gap between you and the ground - increasing your flexibility and confidence in the stretch.

By shuffling your legs further out to either side to compromise for the gap between you and the ground, you’re still going to feel a stretch but you will not feel the benefits that come with doing this stretch correctly.

#10 Single Lean-back Quad Stretch

When you’re cooling down after your leg day, lying quad stretches are the best way to be on your way to recovery. This one requires your muscles to be relatively loose. If you are experiencing DOMS and feel as though your muscles are simply too tight, skip this stretch to avoid putting any more strain on your muscles before they have had a chance to heal.

Starting Position

Begin by grabbing a mat to protect the knees and to keep you comfortable when you’re lying down. Then come onto your knees so you are sitting on your shins.  

Execution

  • Swing one leg out in front of you, this will mean that the opposing leg that is bent should shuffle out to the side of your hips. So, one leg is bent beside your hips and the other is stretched out in front.
  • Lean back so you are resting on your forearms to keep you up and stabilised.
  • Once you feel comfortable, hold the position for the recommended time frame.

Duration: 30 seconds per each leg.

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Sitting on top of the calf when the leg is out straight: When you swing your leg out to the front, the leg you are sitting on should come out to the side, this will become easier as you lean backward and are holding yourself up with your forearms. This is because you are in a lying position at this point, so ensure all the movements are done simultaneously in order for a smooth transition.

FAQs

What is the purpose of a quad stretch?

Like any stretch, the purpose of quad stretches is to keep the muscle healthy, strong and flexible. Flexibility can help you in your exercises and by helping you to feel more limber, they make you less likely to be at risk of injury.

Flexibility is necessary in order to keep up a good range of motion in our joints, but why is this important? Because without this, muscles soon enough become shorter which equates to a tighter muscle that isn’t prepared for vigorous physical activity.

How do I know if my quad is torn or pulled?

Typically you would feel the difference between a tear or a pull, however, below are the symptoms of the two to help you distinguish any key changes, do note, if you feel like you may have endured either - contact your doctor.

Quadricep tear symptoms:

  • Indentation at the top of your knee indicating a torn tendon
  • Difficulty walking or straightening your knee
  • Cramp
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness 

Quadricep pull symptoms:

  • Pain 
  • Swelling
  • Loss of strength
  • Bruising
  • Limited range of motion

Ensure that if you feel any of these symptoms you stop exercising and rest, and if they are more severe contact your doctor.

Before You Go…

By now, you will hopefully feel accomplished in conducting successful quad stretches. Whether you use these before or after your workout is completely up to you, but take our recommendations on what is best; leave your quad stretches lying down for a cool down, and dynamic ones for before!

Before you leave us, if you love to learn about how the body works and are passionate about looking after your muscles, bones and health - why not get qualified as a fitness professional with our level 3 diploma in personal training? Alternatively, download our course prospectus now to browse through all of our fitness courses. 

Written by Kimberley Mitchell

Editor

Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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