15 stretches to lengthen the quads

lengthen quads

Do you need to lengthen the quads? Perhaps their partner in crime the hip flexors too? We will go through 15 stretches to open up the front of the body to release your quadriceps and hip flexors.

lengthen quads

The Quads

The quadriceps are a large group of muscles located on the front of the thigh between the hip and knee joints.

They include the:

Saratorius

The saratorius is not technically a quadricep yet it does interact with them. The muscle runs across the quadriceps diagonally from the outer hip to the inner knee. If this muscle becomes tight you will find that you will start to get pain behind the knee.

Pectineus

Flexes the hip joint and is used when we are walking. This can be damaged by exerting large front or sidekicks without warming up properly. Think a cheerleading heel stretch.

Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, Vastis intermedius

These three muscles are the remainder of the group of the quadriceps muscles. They sit on the outer and inner sides of the thigh with the rectus femoris running in the middle.

When these muscles are tight not only can it cause back pain it can cause knee pain or instability of the knee. That is why it is important to ensure that we lengthen the quads and alleviate the tension.

Rectus femoris

The rectus femoris is one of the major four muscles of the quadricep group. It extends the knee and flexes the hip joint. We use this when we are walking in our daily lives. When this muscle becomes tight you will feel pain in the lower back.

Gracilis

The gracilis allows flexion and rotation in the knee joint and adduction at the hip. When this muscle is tight it’s common injury due to lack of movement to pull the groin.

Function Of The Quads

The quads are used in the everyday movement they are responsible for us being able to walk through the flexion and the hip and knee.

The inability to function properly due to tightness can pull on the hips resulting in an anterior pelvic tilt. This can result in a snowball effect on the muscle groups surrounding the quads such as the hamstrings, glutes, and lower core. That is why it is imperative to lengthen the quads if they are tight.

The Hip Flexor and Quads

The hip flexors are intrinsically connected to the quadriceps. When one becomes tight it affects the other. These stretches today in this blog will address not only the quadriceps but the hip flexors too. We need to not only lengthen the quads but we need to elongate the hip flexors too.

What Happens When The Quads Are Tight?

When the quadriceps are tight it can affect the natural balance of the pelvis. It is quite common today to have tight quadriceps as we predominantly sitting in chairs for the long part of the day. This causes the quads to shorten along with the hip flexors.

When the front of the body shortens the back of the body elongates. This further puts the pelvis out of whack and can contribute to anterior pelvic tilt.

Where do the quads attach?

The semitendinosus is connected to the upper medial shaft of the tibia. While the semimembranosus is connected on the posteromedial surface of the medial tibia. The biceps femoris attaches at the later side of the head of the fibula and the lateral side of the tibia.

Can you lengthen your muscles?

Technically your muscles do not get longer from stretching what is really happening is that the muscle fibers become more pliable and stretch further. This results in a greater range of motion and less stiffness.

Roll and Stretch

Foam rolling is great to break up the muscle and make it more pliable before stretching. A good note to take is that if you only foam roll and do not stretch afterward the effects will last only for 24 hours.

What I recommend is to roll out the quads with a foam roller or a peanut or medicine ball depending on what level of pain that you can take. I prefer the peanut as it curves perfectly to the outer thigh.

For a complete guide on how to use the foam roller to release the quadriceps follow my video routine here.

Once you have broken up that myofascial we can start to lengthen quads with the following exercises.

Lunge

How To:

  • From a kneeling position.
  • Bend the knee and bring one leg in front of you.
  • Ensure that your knee is parallel to your ankle.
  • Sink into the hips.
lengthen quads

Lying Quad Stretch

How To:

  • Laying on your back.
  • Roll to one side so that your body is parallel to the floor.
  • You can use the bottom arm for support and balance.
  • The knee bends on the top leg.
  • The top arm comes around to reach the leg.
  • Grab the foot with your hand and draw the foot to the glute.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Cat Pulling, It’s Tail Quad Stretch

How To:

  • Laying on your back.
  • Roll to one side so that your body is parallel to the floor.
  • You can use the bottom arm for support and balance.
  • The top leg extends in front of you.
  • The knee bends on the lower leg.
  • The top arm comes around to reach the back leg.
  • Grab the foot with your hand and draw the foot to the glute.
  • To go deeper you can either extend the front leg further or draw the back leg further towards the glutes.
lengthen quads

Runners lung & Quad Stretch

How To:

  • From a kneeling position.
  • Bend the knee and bring one leg in front of you.
  • Ensure that your knee is parallel to your ankle.
  • Sink into the hips.
  • Reach around with your hand to grab the foot.
  • Draw the heel closer to the glutes.
pnf stretching benefits

Standing Quad Stretch

How To:

  • From a standing position.
  • Engage your core and slowly begin to bring one leg off the floor.
  • Bend the knee and draw the foot backward with your hand.
  • Repeat on the other side.
lengthen quads

Leg Against The Wall

How To:

  • You will need a wall or a hard surface to push the back leg into.
  • From a kneeling position.
  • Bring one knee as close to the wall as possible. Your shin should be resting on the wall.
  • Use both hands to support you on the floor.
  • Bring the opposite leg up until your foot meets the floor.
  • Gently raise the body up.
  • You can use your leg to balance on.
  • To take it further you can depress the backfoot into the wall.

Camel pose

How To:

  • From a kneeling position.
  • Engage your core and elevate the spine.
  • As you continue to elongate the spine.
  • Gently open the shoulder and let the heart shine forward.
  • Place on hand on your hip to support the pelvis.
  • Bring the other hand to meet it.
  • Continue to push through the hips and quads.
  • Gently come out of this pose.
lengthen quads

Dancers pose

How To:

  • From a standing position.
  • Bend through your right knee and capture the inside of your right foot with your right hand.
  • Squeeze your thumb into the soul of your right foot. Grip your fingers into your upper, bring your left arm parallel to the ground.
  • Lean your chest forward press your right foot away activating through your quads.
  • Feel it stretching out the right side of your chest. Gaze out into the horizon hold for five breaths.
  • Release your spine back upright and release your hands and feet back to the starting position. 
lengthen quads

Heros Pose

How To:

  1. Begin seated with your legs in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee into Hero pose (Virasana).
  3. The right shin is resting on the floor and the heel of the right foot is beside the right hip.
  4. Move the calf out towards the outer side of the leg with your hands.
  5. Ensure that the toes of your right foot are pointing straight back and that your thighs are parallel to one another (i.e. the right knee isn’t bowing out to the side).
  6. Repeat on the other side
  7. You can stay in a seated position.
  8. If you want to take it further you can lower your trunk further towards the floor.
lengthen quads

Sugarcane Pose: Ardha Chandra Chapasana

How To:

  1. Begin in a forward fold.
  2. Ground your feet into the floor.
  3. Bring one of your feet of the ground and extend it behind you.
  4. We are going to shift the hips from a horizontal position to a vertical position. Meaning open the hip of the extended leg until your body is nice and flat like in a toaster.
  5. The same hand as the extended leg begins to come around so that the hand reaches the top of the foot.
  6. Draw the foot into the glute.
  7. Repeat on the other side.
lengthen quads

Bow Pose

How To:

  • Begin by lying on your belly with your arms in a cactus position on the floor. 
  • As you inhale, gently squeeze your shoulder blades back toward each other.
  • Begin lifting your chest, your head, and the top of your ribs off the floor.
  • Exhale, and on your next inhalation, lift your legs off the floor.
  • Press your feet together and keep your legs active and engaged.
  • Bend your elbows as if squeezing them toward each other behind you. 
lengthen quads

Hips

Wheel Pose

How To:

  • Starting laying on the ground face up.
  • Place your palms above your shoulders.
  • Fingers should be facing the shoulders.
  • Knees bend and feet come to the bottom of the sit bones.
  • Depress your weight into your feet and hands.
  • Lift the body, engage your core and open your heart.
  • Try to walk your feet closer towards the hands.
lengthen quads

Crescent lunge

How To:

  • From a standing pose, feet are about 4-5 feet apart, turning the back inward so that it is facing the same direction of the front foot.
  • Bend deep through your front knee over the ankle and keep your back knee fully straight.
  • Pull the arms apart and bring them straight on. There is the option to take a chest opener as I have in this image.
  • Ground your tailbone, draw your lower ribs towards your spine, draw your shoulder blades down back and lift the front of your heart, bring your heart over your hips,
  • Ground down to your heels into the earth and squeeze your feet gently down and together, subtly lift your inner arches, and feel that you are drawing your energy up from the earth, through the feet, through your legs into your pelvis.
lengthen quads

Hip Flexor Beginner

  1. From a standing position take a wide step forward with your right leg.
  2. Bring your left knee to the floor.
  3. Push the hips forward.
  4. Curl the tail bone under.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Hip Flexor Intermediate

  1. From a standing position take a wide step forward with your right leg.
  2. Bring your left knee to the floor.
  3. Push the hips forward.
  4. Curl the tail bone under.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
tensor fasciae latae stretch

Do you have any tips on how you lengthen your quads? I would love to hear them and our readers would too.

Stay Limber,

Jadore Vanessa

Vanessa Barthelmes

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lengthen quads

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