Running, jumping and kicking -- how could you manage all that without your quadriceps? These muscles in the front of each thigh are responsible for extending your knees. Every time you straighten your legs while you're walking, for example, your quads are hard at work. You can make your quads more flexible by stretching them in different ways even while you are sitting.
The four quadriceps muscles are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis. All four act together as the prime mover when you extend your knee. The rectus femoris also helps flex your hips to bring the thighs toward the waist. While healthy, flexible quads are important for everyone, they’re particularly necessary for sprinters, soccer players and anyone involved in a running or jumping sport.
Double Quad Stretch
Bending your lower legs toward your back thighs from a variety of positions is a classic method of stretching the quadriceps. You can do so while standing or lying on your side, for example. To stretch both quads while you’re seated, kneel so your shins are on the floor, with your knees pointed forward, and then sit between your feet. Alternatively, keep your legs and feet together and kneel down so your thighs and calves are in contact with each other. Extend both arms behind you and lean your upper body backward until you feel a stretch in your quads. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
You can use a chair as a tool to help stretch your quads. The chair cannot have any arms and its height must allow you to keep one leg on the seat while your opposite knee rests on the floor. Begin in an erect, seated position with your feet on the floor. Slide to your right until you’re about halfway off the chair and then place your right knee and shin on the floor. Your right thigh should be vertical and your right toes should be pointed behind you. Lean your torso back until you feel the stretch in your right quads. Maintain the stretch for 30 seconds and then stretch the opposite leg.
The double-headed psoas muscle is a northern neighbor of your quads, extending from your upper thigh to your lower back. You can stretch the psoas along with your quads by sitting with your left hip on the floor. The left sides of your left thigh and calf should rest on the floor with your left knee bent about 90 degrees. Bend your right leg behind you so your right heel is directly behind your butt. Lean to your left and place your left forearm on the floor. Put your right hand on the floor to your right so your arm is straight and angled a bit away from your left thigh. Slide your left elbow away from your hip until it's below your head or slightly beyond it and then rotate your upper torso a bit to the right until you feel a stretch on your right side. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat it on the opposite side.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.