If your knees are banged up and in pain, stretching your quads out can give you some relief. The only problem is that a lot of quad stretches put pressure on your knees, because the muscles are connected to your knee cap. Gentle stretches are the smarter option if your knees are bothering you, and can make your knee move and feel better.
Stretching the Quads
The quadriceps are four muscles that go from your hip or the top of your femur down into your knee cap. They allow your leg to extend and one of the four muscles flexes your hip. To properly stretch all of your quad muscles you'll have to not only bend your knee but add an exercise that stretches the front of your hip.
The catch-22 of stretching your quads while have knee pain is that it can hurt because of the extra pressure. That's why you shouldn't push these stretches too intensely. Take them to the point where you feel a slight pull in the quads, but don't go past that.
From a standing position, bring your right foot up towards your butt and catch it with the right hand. Grab your ankle and wrap your hand around it. Pull the foot in towards your butt.
To make it a dynamic stretch, release the leg immediately and swing the other leg up. To make it a static stretch hold the leg there and slowly pull in for 30 seconds.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel with one knee on a soft pad and the other foot planted in front of you. Both of your knees should be at 90 degrees and your torso straight upright. Slowly lean forward with your hips, feeling a stretch in the front of the back thigh.
To increase the stretch, raise your arms overhead. Move slowly forward into the stretch and back out 10 times, then switch legs.
Side-Lying Quad Stretch
Lie flat on your side. Stack your legs on top of each other. Bend the knee of your top leg and bring your foot close to your butt. Grab the front of your shin and pull the leg in even closer to your butt. Keep pulling in slowly for 30 seconds, then flip over and switch sides. To increase the stretch, slowly drive your knee back behind your body.
Kneel on the ground with your butt on your heels and the tops of your feet flat on the ground. Lean forward with your upper body, keeping your butt on your heels. Walk your hands forward and keep your arms straight.
Keep going until your chest is close to your knees and your forehead close to the ground. Relax down into the stretch. If it's too much on your knees, put a foam roller or rolled up towel between your heels and your butt.
Quadricep Foam Roll
It might not seem like a traditional stretch, but foam rolling your quads is one of the best ways to make them more flexible. In fact, foam rolling can be about as effective as regular stretching for making a muscle flexible. The best part is that you don't have to worry about bending your knee, meaning there isn't any added pressure.
Lay a foam roller horizontal on the floor. Lie down on your stomach and put the top of one leg on the foam roller in the middle of your thigh. Plant the other leg on the ground with your knee bent. Support yourself with your hands and the leg that's off the roller.
Walk your hands up so that the roller goes down your thigh towards your knee. Stop right above the knee, then move the opposite way until you're near your hip. Roll up and down 10 times total, then switch legs.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Knee Conditioning Program
- ACE Fitness: Side-Lying Quadriceps Stretch
- Journal of Sport Rehabilitation: Effect of Foam Rolling and Static Stretching on Passive Hip-Flexion Range of Motion
- Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Effectiveness of Static Quadriceps Stretching in Individuals With Patellofemoral Joint Pain