Thursday 4 October 2018

Standing front thigh stretch

The standing front thigh stretch, also known as the standing quadriceps stretch, is one of the most common stretches that you will see all sorts of people doing. It helps keep the muscles at the front of your thigh flexible especially after leg intensive exercises such as squats and running.

Due to modern living and our habit of spending large amounts of time sitting down with feet on the floor or feet tucked up near our butts, most peoples quadriceps are already pretty flexible from all this passive stretching. This is probably for the worse as unless it is counter-balanced it causes an altered relationship with its opposite muscle group, the hamstrings, which end up tighter and shorter as a result.

If you have a pretty good quadriceps and hamstring relationship, then this stretch can help with knee and back pain.

Primary muscle targeted

The picture below shows the primary muscle targeted and the parts thereof:

Quadriceps muscles Vastus Medialis Vastus Lateralis Rectus Femoris Vastus Intermedius

How to perform

This stretch can be performed either standing unaided or if you need support by placing your hands against an object such as a wall or chair.

  • Stand up straight and relaxed with a neutral pelvis.
  • Shift your weight onto the leg you are not stretching.
  • Raise your heel towards your butt and grasp with your hand. Anywhere will do be it the ankle, foot or toes.
  • If you have trouble reaching your foot, then use a towel or a resistance band to achieve a grasp.
  • Once grasped pull your foot further towards your butt whilst keeping your knees together.
  • Ensure you keep your knees together as pulling the whole leg back alters what muscles are being stretched.
  • Hold for desired length of time. To maintain current length: about 10-15 seconds; to elongate the muscle about 30+ seconds.
  • To increase stretch simply extend your hips by moving them forward slightly.
Standing front thigh quadriceps stretch
A standing front thigh stretch with wall support. Picture borrowed from Fairview.

Common mistakes

Mistakes that commonly occur when performing this stretch include:

  • Torso leaning forward, which decreases the effectiveness of the stretch.
  • Hips flexed (butt leaning backwards), which also decreases the effectiveness.
  • Lack of neutral pelvic position.


Only go as far as you find comfortable when feeling the stretch. Over-stretching the muscle can cause injury and pain is a pretty good indicator that you are stretching to much to quick.

Lyle Richardson,
Gym Pal - Your Friend In Fitness


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