The Quadriceps is a large muscle group comprised of 4 muscles: Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius and Rectus Femoris.
It does knee extension and the Rectus Femoris also does hip flexion. As such, it participates largely in movements such as squats, lunges, jumps and running, and also acts as a knee stabilizer. It can become shortened by overuse (endurance running, cycling, etc) or if staying for extended periods of time in a shortened position (while sitting, driving or riding a bike for instance).
If it feels tight or sore, try stretching or self massaging it with the techniques demonstrated below.
3 Quadriceps stretches
1. Prone Quadriceps stretch
2. Standing Quadriceps stretch
In a standing position, grab your foot and pull it toward your glutes. Make sure to keep your knees aligned and your back straight so as not to go into a back bend. hold 30s, relax, and repeat 3 times.
3. Kneeling Quadriceps stretch
kneel on a yoga mat with part of it rolled up. bring one leg forward and grab your foot on the other side; bring it toward your glutes. make sure to keep your back straight and hips forward. hold 30s, relax and repeat 3 times.
in the same position, if you push your hips forward, you will feel the upper part of the rectus femoris (the one that acts as a hip flexor) more thoroughly.
3 Quadriceps foam rolling techniques
1. Quadriceps longitudinal roll
place the foam roller on the floor then facing down, place your quadriceps on it. the other leg is on your side, helping to guide and stabilize you. roll up and down to massage the muscle fibers length-wise. roll for 3-5min.
2. Quadriceps cross-fiber roll
in the same position, bend your knee and rotate your foot from side to side like a windshield wiper. you will feel the massage across your muscle fibers. roll for a couple of minutes then move slightly up or down the quadriceps to repeat the cross-fiber massage on a different area of the muscle. repeat as needed.
3. Quadriceps pin and stretch
in the same position, place your body on a trigger point. while holding that point bend and extend your knee to massage it. Roll for 2-3min.
Preventive care of your Quadriceps can be beneficial to avoid sports injuries such as Runner’s Knee or Jumper’s Knee; consider including these stretches and foam rolling techniques in your fitness routine on top of regular sports massage sessions.