Are you overworked and under stretched? Relieve your tension with quad stretches. Your quadriceps thigh muscle extends your leg straight at the knee. You can do thigh stretches while you're standing and talking on the phone or while you're lying on the floor playing with your kids. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Keep your abdomen compressed to prevent your low back from arching.
Your children may not notice that you're also helping yourself while you're helping them with homework, but you will notice and feel the relief. Plan homework or TV time down on the living room carpet. Lie on your side facing your child and bend your top leg back toward your buttocks until you can grasp your ankle with your top hand. Gently pull your heel closer to your bottom. Breathe deeply and relax while your thigh muscle lengthens. Keep the thigh bone of the stretching leg parallel to the floor. Switch to your other leg and repeat.
You may prefer a kneeling position, which gives you the added benefit of also stretching your hip flexors. Your hip flexors are muscles that insert at the front of your spine and pelvis. They attach to the top of your thigh bone and help your hip bend. One of your thigh muscles, the rectus femoris, also attaches to your hip bone. Notice how the kneeling position stretches the front of your hip along with your thigh. Start by kneeling on your right knee. Stack both hands on your left knee and place your left foot about 2 feet out in front. Shift your weight forward over your left foot, opening your right hip. Keep a 90-degree angle in your front ankle. Hold and breathe while your muscles lengthen. Switch legs.
Robe Belt Stretch
You may not be able to reach your ankle behind you to perform a quadriceps stretch. This is not an obstacle if you have a robe belt. Robe belts are usually soft and long, making them a perfect stretching tool. Choose to either stand, or lie on your tummy or your side. Loop your belt around the ankle of your right leg and hold both of the other ends in your right hand. Place your right hand on the back of your right hip, bending your right knee. Refrain from twisting your torso. Hold and breath deeply while your extensor muscles lengthen. Switch legs.
If you want a deeper stretch to improve your leg extension range of motion, try a standing balance stretch. The standing balance stretch is advanced and provides a very deep stretch. Try this stretch only if you have good balance and have no knee or hip pain. Start by standing tall with your back to your couch, approximately 2 to 3 feet away. Place your hands on your hips. Lift your left foot up behind you and place the top of your left foot on the couch cushion. Allow the knee of your left leg to bend as you lower down a few inches by bending your right leg. Squeeze your left buttocks. Breath and hold, allowing your muscles to respond and lengthen. Discontinue if you feel pain in your knee.
- Stretching; Bob Anderson 30th Anniversary Edition
- YMCA Personal Training Manual; YMCA of the USA
- ACE Get Fit: Side Lying Quadriceps Stretch
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images