Strong quadricep femoris muscles, or quads, affect lower body locomotion, giving flexion and rotation to the hips and stability to the knees. Leg raises stretch and strengthen the four muscles of the quadricep group, located in the front of your leg between the knee and hip. While performing quad exercises, muscles contracted fully provide maximum benefits. However, excessive force can cause injury. Consult with a physician to discuss your exercise program to ensure exercises are appropriate for you.
Standing Quad Stretch
Standing quad stretches can be performed at home with the use of a chair for balance and stabilization. Face the back of a chair and extend your right arm forward and hold onto the chair with your hand. Bend your left leg and grasp your ankle with your left hand. Keep the right leg straight, but do not lock the knee. Pull your left foot toward your buttock to stretch the quad muscles. Hold the position for 10 seconds and slowly release. Repeat the stretch on the other side.
All-Fours Quad Exercise
The all-fours quad exercise is performed on the floor on a mat. Balance your body on hands and knees, with hands located shoulder-width apart and slightly forward, and knees below your hips and slightly apart. Raise your right leg up off the floor and bend at the knee, grasping your right ankle with your right hand. Pull the ankle toward your back, feeling the stretch in the front thigh, where the quads are. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds. Release your ankle and lower your leg. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.
The straight-leg raise strengthens quads, enabling these large muscles to stabilize the knee and assist hip flexion. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides or with hands resting on your abdomen. Bend your left knee until the sole of your left foot rests on the floor. Raise your right leg off the floor until the right thigh is parallel to the left thigh. Contract the muscles of your right quad while your toes are pointed upward. Lower your leg and perform a total of 10 repetitions. Repeat the sequence with your left leg.
The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign recommends a leg-lift routine that strengthens quads and stabilizes knees. In a prone position on the floor on your back, bend your left knee and rest your foot on the floor. With the toes of your straight right leg pointed toward the ceiling, raise your leg until your thighs are parallel. Complete 10 repetitions with each leg. Turn slightly onto your right side. Rest your head on your right arm. Bring your bent left leg up and over your right leg. Place your foot on the floor. Raise your straight right leg slightly off the floor. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side. Work up to four sets of exercises.
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For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.