Taking time to stretch your quadriceps muscles is important both before and after an intense workout. When you do so, you decrease the chances of injuries during your workout and reduce muscle soreness following exercise.
The Importance of Stretching the Quadriceps
Almost all types of aerobic exercise use the quadriceps muscles. Whether you are cycling, running, doing aerobics, using machines to exercise your lower body or doing squats, your quadriceps are involved. When these muscles become tight, you run a greater risk of injury to your knees and your lower back. The more you can warm and stretch these muscles before a workout, the greater the chance of having an injury-free exercise session.
Many people have tight quadriceps muscles and it takes time to achieve an adequate stretch. Be sure to breathe through the stretching exercises and give yourself adequate time in each stretch. A minimum of one to two minutes is usually recommended in each posture.
Stretching Your Quadriceps While Standing
One of the most common stretches for the quadriceps is done while standing. Standing on one leg, raise the other foot behind you, bending the knee. You want to pull the foot as close to your buttocks as possible. Use the right hand to hold the right foot. To deepen this stretch, use the opposite hand to hold the foot. If necessary, hold on to a wall or chair to maintain your balance. Repeat this stretch on both sides of the body.
Stretching the Quadriceps While Lying Down
This is a more advanced stretch you can do while watching television or at the gym when you have adequate floor space. Start in a sitting position with both legs in front of you. Bend the right knee into a hurdler's position. Then slowly move your back to the floor. When done correctly, you will feel a stretch in your right quad with no pressure on your knee.
Another Quadriceps Floor Stretch
While resting on the front of your body, bend your right knee and grab on to your right foot from behind. Again, using the left hand will create a deeper stretch. Use the right hand if you are not ready for a deeper stretch. Pull the foot as close to your buttocks as possible in this stretch.
Kneeling Quadriceps Stretch
This stretch is often used in dance and aerobics classes. Take a large step forward with your left leg and bend your left knee. First straighten the back leg and make sure that the left knee is in line with your toes. Lunging too far forward can cause knee injuries. From this position, place your right knee on the floor. Use your right or left hand to grab the right foot from behind. Pull your right foot toward your buttocks, feeling a deepening in this stretch. Be careful to ease into this stretch to prevent injury.