Tight thighs alter the way you walk, stand and sit. Blood flow is restricted when muscles are tight, thus affecting the entire range of motion of your legs. Luckily, loosening up the fronts of your thighs is relatively easy.
Perform a few simple stretches several times per day to stretch the quadriceps, which are the four-part muscle at the front of your thighs. If you're particularly tight, schedule a massage or make a date with a foam roller, too.
Standing Quad Stretch
Borrow this do-anywhere thigh stretch from yoga. Known as Dancer's pose, stand and put all your weight into your left leg. Kick your right heel to your buttocks and grab the top of the foot with your right hand. Press the right foot into your right hand to accentuate the stretch. Hold onto a wall or chair if you're having trouble holding your balance. Breathe into the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat with the left side.
If you can't quite catch your foot with your hand, wrap a towel or yoga strap around the top of your foot and grasp both ends with your hand to pull the thigh to the point of a mild stretch. Alternatively, stand with your back near a wall and bend the knee of one leg so you can lean the top of the right foot against it. Lean back until you feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
You're in complete control of the intensity of this stretch. The farther you lean back, the greater the stretch — but if your back starts to collapse or your hips bend, you've lost control and the stretch sensation. If you have a set of light dumbbells on hand, hold them parallel to the ground to provide a counterbalance.
Kneel on a mat or folded blanket to cushion your knees. Allow the tops of your feet to touch the floor and keep the thighs perpendicular to the mat as if you're standing on your knees. Extend your arms in front of you so they're parallel to the floor at shoulder height. Clench your glutes and slowly lean back so your buttocks go closer to your heels. Keep the thighs straight and avoid bending the hip joints.
When you feel a mild stretch in the front of the thighs and hips, hold for three to five counts and return to the straight-up position. Repeat three or four times.
A wide Child's pose is a simple but effective way to stretch tight fronts of your thighs. It's also a soothing yoga pose that helps you relax. To do the posture, get onto your knees and open them as wide as your yoga mat. Sink your buttocks back over your heels and stretch your arms far forward as you place your chest between your thighs and your forehead on the mat. Hold for five to 10 breaths, or longer.
A kneeling lunge is simple, but effective, in stretching the fronts of your thighs. Progress from version one to version two for greater intensity.
Version 1: Get into all fours and plant the right foot forward between your hands. Ensure your right knee is aligned over your right ankle. Place your hands on your right thigh and bring your torso perpendicular to the floor. Lean into the right knee, keeping your left and right hip points squared to the front at all times. The right sole of the foot should stay on the floor for the whole stretch — don't let the heel creep up. You'll feel the stretch in the left front of the thigh and hip. Hold for 30 to 40 seconds, then switch sides.
Version 2: Assume the lunge position as described above. Place your left hand on the floor inside your right foot. Kick your left heel in toward your buttock and grab it with your right hand. Your torso twists to make the movement happen. Hold this twist for several breaths and then switch sides. This is a more intense stretch for the front of the thigh, so work up to it overtime.