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13 Tue

How to stretch out your quads the right way

How to stretch out your quads the right way

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


Many times I’m at the gym and I see all different types of exercises and stretches.  Some are good, and some leave me scratching my head.  On the heels of “How to stretch your hamstrings the right way”, let’s talk about how to stretch your quads the right way.

The quadriceps muscle, more commonly known as the “quads”, is a set of four muscles on the front of the upper thigh that straighten the knee but also bend the hip.  Quad strength is important for good knee health, but flexibility can play an important role as well in preventing injury and counteracting the dreaded “sit down disease” (that’s where you get tight and get lower crossed syndrome from sitting too much).

Three parts of the quads (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedialis) arise from the thigh bone (the femur) and connect to the patellar tendon that runs down in the front of your knee.  The fourth and most superficial part of the quad is the rectus femoris.  It starts just above the hip on a part of your pelvis that’s called the ilium and runs down to join the rest of the muscles into the patellar tendon.  Now you know what it is and what it does, let’s talk about how to stretch it correctly.

The classic quad stretch is done standing, where you bend your knee behind you and grab your ankle or foot to stretch the front part of the thigh.  What happens next is where you can get an effective stretch or just waste your time.  Since part of the quad crosses the hip joint, position of the hip and trunk is important.  So when standing to perform the stretch, stand up as straight as you can, keeping the hip straight and extended (your knee points straight down to the floor).  Bonus points if you can keep you knee close to midline and not let it wing out or point to the side.  Another tip is to try and pull that knee past your other knee.  And as with all stretches, hold the stretch position for 30 seconds and repeat as needed.

Poor technique or poor positions include bending forward while trying to stretch the quads in standing or letting the knee point outwards or wing out instead of being close to midline.  The bottom line is knowing where the muscle starts and ends and making sure that you stretch in the proper position, essentially taking those two points and separating them as much as you can.  Good alignment makes for a more effective stretch.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.


Image courtesy of Ambro /

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