I am doing a quick video on quadriceps muscle group. I will show you an effective quadriceps stretch and an ineffective quadriceps stretch. I am going to use my trusty mop in order to help me out. The mop isn’t required, but with the mop, we eliminate balance concerns. We want to focus on the stretches as opposed to a balance exercise. You could also use a sturdy chair, table, or the wall in order to help you balance.
The quadriceps femoris is a large muscle group made up of the four main muscles on the front and side of the thigh. The four muscles include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius. The quadriceps are knee extensor muscles, meaning they function to straighten the knee. The rectus femoris muscle also crosses the hip and is therefore important in hip flexion. The quadriceps are a large muscle group that gets used often and must be stretched on a regular basis. The quads can also get tight from sitting, as the hips are in a flexed position. With most of us sitting far too much every single day, it is even more important to regularly stretch the quadriceps muscles. The quads are also important for standing, walking and pretty much any activity that involves the legs.
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I take my trusty mop and grab something stable. I am grabbing the quadriceps and bringing the heel towards the seat. Now a lot of people who stretch this way are really not getting an effective stretch in the quadriceps or the muscle that is typically tight in individuals which is the rectus femoris. As discussed earlier, the rectus femoris is a two joint muscle that crosses over the hips. You need to get hip extension to get a more effective stretch. So I am grabbing the heel or grabbing the forefoot, bringing the heel to the seat, and bringing the knee back to really isolate the rectus femoris. The trick here is to not only pull the heel toward the seat, but to also bring your knee back behind you, which beings the hip into extension and stretches the rectus femoris muscle more effectively.
If you see your client compensating the lower back by increasing the lower doses or doing an anterior tilt, what you can do is brace the abdominal area almost creating a posterior tilt, bringing the heel towards the seat. Prior to bringing the heel towards the seat, you are really activating that abdominal area and posteriorly tilting. Heel to seat and then bringing the knee back to get a more effective quadriceps stretch and hit the rectus femoris.
So, try out this tweak to get more out of your quad stretch. We hope you enjoy!
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Rick Kaselj, MS
For stretches to do every single day to look and feel better, check out the 11 Daily Stretches to Feel and Look Amazing, here!