What Muscle Does the Standing Thigh Stretch Work?

The standing thigh stretch can help loosen tight quadriceps.
i Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The soreness you feel in your thighs after you sit for too long is the result of compressing your quadriceps muscles. The standing thigh stretch can help loosen these tight muscles and ease any soreness you feel, but this stretch can benefit you in other ways as well.


    Four muscles make up your quads, which run the length of the front of your thigh. These muscles are the vastus medialis, intermedius, lateralis and rectus femoris. Your quads help you extend your knee and the rectus femoris also helps open your hip flexors. Stretching your quads before a workout canl help your muscles support your workout goals and help prevent muscle strain and soreness.

Why Stretch

    Stretching, touts the American Council on Exercise, can help increase your range of motion, increase your mental and physical relaxation, help loosen tight and sore muscles and reduce your risk of injury. To prevent stretching-related injuries, ACE suggests first warming up your muscles with simple, low-impact exercises like walking, spending between five and 10 minutes before stretching. Stretch before and after a workout, advises ACE. Stretching can target specific muscle groups like your quads or help with your overall flexibility.

The Standing Thigh Stretch

    To stretch your quads, hold onto something for balance, raise your right leg behind you with your knee pointed toward the ground, reach back with your right hand and grab your raised foot at the ankle and gently pull this foot toward your butt. The closer to your butt you get your foot, the deeper the stretch. Hold your foot for between 20 and 30 seconds before lowering it and repeating with your other leg. You’ll feel this stretch along the front of your thighs. If something hurts during your stretch, stop. You may want to reconsider your workout to keep from further hurting yourself.

Lactic Acid

    Out of breath takes on a new meaning when you’re working out. The harder your workout, the more oxygen your muscles need. Low or no oxygen, and your muscles will generate energy anaerobically -- without oxygen -- Stephen M. Roth, a professor in the kinesiology department at the University of Maryland told "Scientific American." Generating energy anaerobically creates lactic acid, which is why your muscles burn sometimes after a workout. Stretching helps release any lactic acid that built up in your muscles during your workout, which is why stretching after a workout is so important.

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