The quadriceps muscle group is a powerful complex and muscle worker that function as prime movers in almost any sport. When the muscles and tendons of the quadriceps are very tight, it can affect and compromise the health and stability of the knee, hip and spine. A regular stretching after activities will ensure a balanced muscular tension in the joints.
The quadriceps is a group of four muscles that form the front of the thigh. The vastus lateralis, vastus intermedialis and the vastus medialis are attached to the upper part of the thigh bone, occupying the entire length of the thigh to be inserted through the quadriceps tendon in the patella of the knee. The vastus muscles work together to extend the knee joint. A fourth muscle, the rectus femoris, crosses over the hip joint, extending across the front of the thigh to join the vastus muscles in the patella. The rectus femoris works with the vastus muscles to extend the knee, but also works as a flexor of the hip, being responsible for movements such as raising the knee to the chest.
Classic stretch with variations
A classic stretch that focuses on the quadriceps from the hip and knee can be performed with some variations. Start standing at a distance from one arm of the wall, place your right hand against the wall to maintain balance. Bend the left leg to the height of the knee and hold the front of your left ankle. Lift your chest and exhale while aiming your knee straight at the floor, extending the hip. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing deeply and concentrating on relaxing the muscle. Change and repeat with the other side. To vary the angle, hold the ankle with the opposite hand. For another variation, perform this stretch lying face down on a mat, pulling gently with your hand to lift the thigh off the mat. Another option is to lie on your side with your hips stacked, keeping your upper leg parallel to the floor.
Hip flexor combo stretch
A deep lunge combined with a knee flexion is an advanced and effective quadriceps stretch. On a mat, start by stepping back with your left foot, lining the right knee just above the ankle, chest raised. Drop your left knee to the floor, with your leg and the top of your foot on the mat, the "laces down". Gently press the pelvis forward to stretch the hip flexors.Then place your left hand on the ground directly below the shoulders and bend the left knee, coming little by little with the right hand to grab the front part of the ankle, pulling it gently towards the trunk. Hold your posture, relax and breathe for 30 to 60 seconds and then change sides.
Dhanurasana Yoga Stretch
The bow in yoga (dhanurasana) is an advanced stretch that points to the quadriceps from both ends, and also stretches the chest, shoulders, biceps, calves and abdominal muscles. Make sure your muscles warm up before starting this exercise. Lie face down on a mat, with your knees spread a width of your hips and your palms towards the ceiling next to your hips. Join the shoulder blades, lift the chin and chest while holding the left ankle first and then the right ankle. Arches the back while gently pulling the ankles up, lifting the thighs of the mat. Breathe and hold the position for 30 seconds, then slowly lower your body to the mat. Repeat 2 or 3 times.