7 Best Quad Stretches (Essential Stretching Guide)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
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Like other crucial muscles in the body, stretching your quad muscles to enhance flexibility, prevent injuries, and improve your range of motion is essential.

As a personal trainer, I consistently advocate for quad stretches to prevent experiencing knee pain and lower back discomfort.

After conducting extensive research over several weeks, I have compiled a list of the best quad stretches to spare you from a weekend of curling up on the couch.

Quick Summary

  • The best quad stretches include the standing quad stretch, kneeling quad stretch, lying quad stretch, prone quad stretch, frog pose, child's pose, and pigeon pose.
  • Quad stretches help you improve flexibility, stimulate blood flow, increase your range of motion, promote good posture, and reduce the risk of injury.
  • A National Institute of Health study found that all stretching forms, especially proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), effectively improve range of motion and alleviate muscle tightness and imbalances.
  • In my opinion, consistent stretching is essential for athletes, especially those involved in high-intensity sports, to maintain muscle health and performance.

Top Quad Stretches

A group of people doing quad stretches

1. Standing Quad Stretch

How to do this exercise:

  1. Stand on your left foot and grasp your right foot with one hand behind you toward your buttocks. You might hold onto a chair for balance.
  2. Gently pull forward with your quad muscle and contract your core muscles.
  3. Hold it for fifteen to thirty seconds before switching sides and holding the left leg up.
  4. Repeat the exercise three times with each leg.

2. Kneeling Quad Stretch

How to do this stretch:

  1. Kneel on the ground and lean backward with your hands resting behind your heels. You may also put a pillow behind your back.
  2. Push your hips upwards off the ground until you feel a stretching sensation in your quad muscles and lumbar spine.
  3. Start to move even further back.
  4. Hold this pose for thirty seconds while keeping your chest upright.

Related: Half Kneeling Quad Stretch

3. Lying Side Quad Stretch

A person doing lying side quad stretches on the ground

How to do this quad stretch:

  1. Lay on your side.
  2. Hold the ankle of your top leg and pull it behind you until you feel a stretching sensation in the anterior part of your quad. Avoid raising your legs too high and over-arching your back.
  3. Hold this stretch for thirty seconds before repeating the same motion with the other side.
  4. Repeat three times for each side.

“You can add a little iliotibial band stretch to this exercise simply by pulling your knee down towards the floor with your ankle. Place your bottom ankle on top of your knee and gently pull it down towards the floor as you are stretching your quad.”

- Laura Inverarity, Physical Therapist

4. Prone Quad Stretch

How to do this exercise:

  1. Lay on your stomach on a mat.
  2. Bend your left knee to bring your foot toward your glutes.
  3. Gab the ankle with your left arm.
  4. Bring your left foot closer to the body.
  5. Pause for thirty seconds before switching to the other leg.

5. Frog Pose

A person doing a frog pose at a home gym

How to do this exercise:

  1. Assume a quadruped position, aligning your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
  2. Bring your knees as wide as you can while ensuring your toes are turned, allowing the inside of your foot to rest flat on the floor. Keep your knees in line with your ankles and your shins parallel to each other.
  3. Come down onto your forearms while keeping your spine in a neutral position.
  4. Hold this position for thirty seconds.

6. Child’s Pose

How to do this exercise:

  1. Get on all fours.
  2. Push back with your arms and sit back toward your heels. Keep your head down and avoid looking up.
  3. Keep pushing back with your hands as far as you can.
  4. Hold for thirty seconds.

“It's very important to make sure your forehead is resting on the ground. If you're still working toward the flexibility to keep your forehead to the ground and the sit bones resting on your heels, simply put a folded blanket under your buttocks to bridge the gap.”

- Ann Pizer, Yoga Teacher

7. Pigeon Pose

A person doing a pigeon pose quad stretch

How to do this static stretching exercise:

  1. Start in the downward dog pose.
  2. Inhale as you raise your right leg.
  3. Bring your left knee behind your left wrist.
  4. Walk your legs back as far as you can.
  5. Place your left knee outside of your hip. Ideally, the shin should be parallel to the top edge of the mat.
  6. Walk your hands forward.
  7. Hold this position for thirty seconds.

What Are the Benefits of Quad Stretches?

A person on a yoga mat doing quad stretches

As a trainer, I've observed that clients who regularly perform quad stretches experience reduced muscle tension, enhanced range of motion, and a lower risk of injury.

  • Reduced tension of muscles - Stretching helps reduce muscle tension by elongating the muscle and connective tissue, which are composed of multiple sections within each muscle fiber. The main goal of stretching is to release pressure in these muscle segments.
  • Improved range of motion (ROM) - Tightness in muscles can be caused by various factors, such as delayed-onset muscle soreness, which can restrict your range of motion and lead to muscle imbalances. According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), all stretching forms have been found to improve your range of motion, with proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) being the most effective [1].
  • Reduced injury - Regular use makes the quadriceps muscles prone to inflammation, pain, and tightness. You may even experience quadriceps tendinopathy, inflammation of the tendons connecting your quadricep muscles to your knee joint. Incorporating quad stretches into your routine can help prevent such issues.

Tips for Quad Stretches

A person doing quad stretches on the ground

I always emphasize enhancing quad stretches by:

  • According to the NIH, you should hold each stretch between ten and thirty seconds to reap optimal benefits [3].
  • Focus on relaxing your muscles while holding the stretch.
  • Take deep breaths throughout the stretch.
  • Stretch your muscles with gentle movements. You should experience mild tension but not pain. If you feel pain, stop the stretch immediately.

Related Posts:

Integration with Other Fitness Regimens

Integrating quad stretches into various fitness routines like yoga, Pilates, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can significantly enhance their benefits. Here's how:

  1. Yoga: In yoga, quad stretches can be seamlessly integrated into flows for increased muscle flexibility and joint health. Poses like the Warrior series, which naturally engage and stretch the quadriceps, can be complemented with specific quad stretches like the Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) or the Virasana (Hero Pose). These stretches help in releasing tension from the quads, improving the range of motion, and preparing the body for more advanced yoga poses.
  2. Pilates: Pilates focuses on controlled movements and core strength, and integrating quad stretches can enhance these aspects. Exercises like the Pilates Reformer can be modified to include quad stretches, helping to balance muscle development and flexibility. For instance, incorporating a modified Front Split on the Reformer can target the quads, improving leg alignment and flexibility, which is crucial for Pilates exercises.
  3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is known for its intense bursts of activity followed by short rest periods. Incorporating quad stretches during these rest periods can be highly beneficial. It helps in actively recovering the muscles, reducing the risk of injury, and maintaining muscle elasticity. Simple stretches like the Standing Quad Stretch can be quickly performed between intervals, ensuring that the quads are not overly tightened from the explosive exercises typical in HIIT.

FAQs

Is it Good to Stretch Your Quads?

Yes, it is good to stretch your quads as it allows you to improve blood circulation, increase your range of motion, enhance flexibility and posture, and prevent injuries.

How Long Does it Take to Loosen Your Quads?

It takes a few weeks to loosen your quads, depending on your current flexibility level, consistency of stretching, and individual body characteristics. It is essential to increase the duration of the stretch and the intensity to achieve remarkable results.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588663/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
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About The Author

Senior Coach
Tyler Sellers is a trained athlete and author with contributions to publications like Men’s Health, The Healthy, Fox Business, NerdWallet, Weight Watchers, and MSN. His unique approach extends beyond physical techniques, emphasizing the significance of mental techniques like the flow state and mind-muscle connection.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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