How to Stretch the Upper Side of the Leg Muscles

The standing quad stretch can help to loosen tight muscles.

The standing quad stretch can help to loosen tight muscles.

If you regularly participate in activities like running or bicycling then you have likely experienced pain on the upper side of your legs, also known as the quadriceps. A group of four muscles that run from the hip to below the kneecap, the quadriceps, or quads, help to straighten the knee and flex the hip. Repeated stress placed on the quads, such as running requires, can cause the muscle group to become tight. Stretching can help to loosen the muscle and alleviate any discomfort.

Standing Quadriceps Stretch

Stand approximately 12 inches in front of a wall or stable piece of exercise equipment. Pull your stomach muscles in and push your shoulders down and away from your ears. Lift your chest and elongate your spine.

Place your right hand on the wall or exercise equipment for stability. Shift your weight to your right leg and raise your left foot toward your buttocks. Take hold of your left ankle with your left hand.

Bring the left heel as close to your buttocks as you are able while still keeping your hips level and squared. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thighs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then release the left foot back to the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Lying Quadriceps Stretch

Lie on your right side on an exercise mat with your body extended and in one straight line. Stack your left hip over the right hip and your left ankle on top of the right. Rest your head on top of your right arm.

Bend the left knee and take hold of the top of the foot with your left hand. Guide the left foot up toward your buttocks; you should feel a stretch in the quadriceps.

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Keep the hips pointing forward and the thighs together throughout the stretch. Repeat on the other side.

Items you will need

  • Exercise mat


  • Keep the knees close together throughout both stretches. It can be common for the knees to turn out to the sides, however, doing so can pull your hips and pelvis out of alignment.
  • Push your hips slightly forward when your knee is at your buttocks to deepen the stretch.


  • Stop stretching if you feel any pain in your knees or quadriceps. Consult a physician regarding any pain.

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About the Author

Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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