3 Ways to Get a Good Quad Stretch

Stretch Your Quad Muscles with the Hip Bridge

Woman doing the bridge exercise.
Stretch your quadriceps muscles with a hip bridge. Dmyr_Z

While it's true that the hip bridge is a great way to strengthen your butt and hamstring muscles, that's not its only value.  This exercise does double duty as a quad stretch, and for some people, (including yours truly) a pretty intense one, at that.  Try it now.

Hip Bridge Exercise Instructions

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on your floor.  Make an effort to align your body before your begin by checking that your feet are pointed forward and directly under you knees.  This may help protect your joints from strain.  

Next, press your feet into the floor to leverage your butt up in the air.  Once you're up, use your butt muscles to get even higher.  And here's a special tip - make the effort happen from the lower butt.  This will increase the amount of hip extension you give your hip joints, which in turn will likely increase the stretch in your quads.  But don't overdo this.  Getting as high as you think you can is not worth straining anything.  Instead, go to the place where you feel a "good hurt," and where you feel your position is stable and manageable. 

Related:  More Challenging Versions of the Hip Bridge

Quad Stretch in the Side Lying Position

Woman doing a sidelying quad stretch.
The side lying quad stretch is a good one for beginners. AmeliaFox

One very common position for a quad stretch is standing.  In standing, you grab a hold of one foot behind you with the hand on the same side. Then you straighten up and pull that baby back. 

Problem is, some people have balance challenges when they try standing quad stretches.  Others find it difficult to get a hold of the foot and bring it backward without straining something.

What do do?

The answer is simple.  You can carry out those exact instructions while lying on your side.  Here's how:

Obviously, start by lying on your side.  You can position yourself for this stretch with your knees bent or straight. Just know that if you try it with straight legs, you may need extra help from your core muscles to help you balance. You also have a choice about what to do with your bottom arm - either take it straight up and rest your head on it, or bend it and use it to prop your head up.   Then, align your body by stacking your top hip directly above the bottom hip.  The same thing goes for your shoulders.

Next, grab your the foot or ankle of your top leg behind you.  Either place is fine - the main thing is be able to reach comfortably. Pull your bent leg backwards.

Quad Stretch - How to Make it a Doozy

Here are a couple of tips for accentuating your side lying quad stretch:

  • Keep your knee down as best you can.  If you’re really tight this may be painful at first.  But with regular practice, you'll likely loosen up which help.  
  • While you’re pulling your thigh back, also bring your lower butt toward the back of the leg.  This will accentuate the stretch at the front of the hip.

Related Stretch:  Outer Hips

Stretch Your Quad Muscle in a Lunge

Woman doing a lunge.
The lunge position or exercise can help stretch tight quads. AmeliaFox

An advanced (or at least an intermediate) move, the kneeling lunge can really “get” the quads.  You'll feel the stretch in your back leg.  Your front leg is positioned such to keep you balanced and stable.

As with other variations on a quad stretch, bringing your butt toward the back of your thigh will help accentuate the experience.  Accentuate it even further by gently bending your front knee and ankle forward, allow your body to come along -  again keeping the lower butt toward the back of your thigh as you do this. Use this tip in increments for the best result.  In other words, move forward just a little and stay and stretch.  

Performing a  lunge means that one side does something different than the other.  If you have sacroiliac joint instability or scoliosis, tread with caution.  You don't absolutely have to do a lunge in order to relax your quadriceps muscles.  Great quad stretches can be had with either of the other two versions shown in this article.  Or you can try a standing stretch.

Related:  How to Do a Standing Quad Stretch

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