Quadriceps stretches are commonly done prior to any sporting event. We're familiar with the stretch whereby we pull our foot up behind us. A mistake people often make during this stretch is to let their knee drift forward. The part of the quadriceps muscle that is most commonly injured is the rectus femoris - the part that crosses both the hip and the knee joint. See below for the appropriate stretches to target the rectus femoris.
What is the quadriceps muscle?
Stretching for the Quadriceps
Benefits of quadriceps stretches
The quadriceps make up the bulk of the muscle in the front of the thigh. As the name implies there are four parts: rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius.
Origin: The rectus femoris is the only part of the quadriceps muscle that crosses the hip, so must be stretched differently. The vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius originate from the femur.
Insertion: The quadriceps inserts into the patella via the quadriceps tendon. Some fibres of vastus medialis insert directly onto the medial aspect of the patella.
Action: All four parts of the quadriceps extend the knee. The rectus femoris will also flex the hip.
Instructions to stretch the right side in standing
The easiest way to stretch the quadriceps is in standing.
Hold this position for the appropriate time
To target rectus femoris specifically try the following:
To stretch the right rectus femoris:
Hold this position for the appropriate time.
Quadriceps Stretch in Side Lying
If you have trouble with balancing on one leg, it is possible to do this stretch in side lying. To stretch the right side simply do the following:
Quadriceps stretch in Prone Lying
Stretching your quadriceps while lying on your stomach prevents the knee from moving forward and negating any stretching effect on the rectus femoris. You can assist this further by putting a small cushion or rolled up towel under your knee.
To stretch the right side simply do the following:
Rectus Femoris Stretch over the Edge of the Bed
Another way of targeting the rectus femoris is in lying. This is easier than trying to balance and is less stressful on the lower back. To stretch the right rectus femoris try the following:
Benefits of Quadriceps Stretches
The quadriceps muscle tends to get tight in people involved in running, soccer, hockey - any sport that uses that muscle heavily. Often neglected is the rectus femoris. Like most muscles that cross over two or more joints, it tends to become particularly tight and therefore can disrupt normal joint mechanics, and become prone to strains.
In addition, tightness in the vastus lateralis and ITB relative to vastus medialis is a common source of anterior knee pain.