How tight are the fronts of your thighs, and how effective are your Quad Stretch exercises to help loosen things up and open the hips? Are you taking time to work on your flexibility to help improve your muscle balance?
Are the fronts of your thighs and your hip flexors grippy and grabby? Do you realize how much this is affecting your posture, health, and functional fitness?
The Quadriceps muscle group is on the front of the thigh. Quad means four, so it’s actually 4 different muscles – Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, and Vastus Intermedius. The action of the Quads is to straighten the knee, but the Rectus Femoris also assists with the action of lifting the knee to the chest, or folding the torso forward towards the legs.
A lot of people have really tight Quadriceps and hip flexor muscles. Generally speaking, we spend too much time sitting, and too little time stretching our Quads and strengthening our core, back, hips, and hamstrings. Over time, as the backs of our legs get stiffer and weaker, and the fronts of our thighs, Quads, and hip flexor muscles get tighter and stronger. The result is the pelvis may get “stuck” in a more anterior tilted position, or we sit and stand with the hips tucked under in an attempt to counteract the problem. Either way, if the pelvis is out of position it shortens our stride and restricts the ability to get the leg to swing behind the body when we walk. Taking a short stride that never goes behind the body only continues to strengthen the overdeveloped Quads and Hip Flexors, while the Hamstrings and muscles in the back of the body continue to weaken.
With tight Quads, there’s no balance for good body mechanics, functional fitness, and balanced muscle development between the front and back of the body. Not only does this muscle imbalance affect our hips, but it can contribute to back pain above the hip joint, and knee pain or foot pain below.
I am a big fan of using strength exercises to facilitate improvements for flexibility. But sometimes learning how to let go of our over-held Quadriceps and hip flexor muscles to stretch and release has to happen first so the muscles of the back and legs CAN lengthen more as you’re working on improving the muscle strength needed to take a longer stride, move the body in bigger ranges of motion, or reduce hip, back, knee, and foot pain.
Practice this hip-opening thigh stretch exercise at home, after a walk, run, or fitness workout, (and it wouldn’t hurt to get out of your chair during the day and take a moment to do a Quad stretch while you’re at work too!)
Take advantage of doing a daily Quadriceps stretch to help improve the flexibility and mobility of your legs, release tight hip flexors, keep your knees healthy, and begin bringing your body back into balance for better functional fitness.