The quadriceps muscle is a group of four muscles that are located in the front of your thigh. The quads, as they are often called, help to straighten your knee and are also responsible for keeping your kneecap in its proper position.
Tightness in your quads may cause kneecap tracking issues like patellofemoral stress syndrome or subluxations of the patella. A lack of flexibility in this muscle group may also lead to more significant injuries, like a quad strain or patella tendon tear, during vigorous athletic activity.
Stretching exercises for the quadriceps can be performed to help keep this muscle group functioning optimally. Many people have a difficult time stretching their quads, especially if they are considerably tight. Stretching the quads requires you to bend your knee pretty far, and often it is difficult for people to reach their lower leg to fully bend the knee and stretch the quadriceps. There is a solution: the towel quadriceps stretch.
Here is how you perform the towel quadriceps stretch:
First, be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- Obtain a towel. If you don't have one handy, you can use a strap or your belt.
- Lie on your stomach and loop the towel around your ankle.
- Reach behind you and grab both ends of the towel with one hand. If shoulder pain or limited shoulder range of motion prevents you from reaching the towel, you may wish to try the towel shoulder stretch first.
- Gently pull on the towel so your knee bends and a gentle stretch is felt in the front of your thigh.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, and then slowly release. Repeat the stretch 3 to 5 times on each leg.
This stretch can be performed multiple times per day. It is also a great exercise to help combat the painful condition called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise.
The towel quadriceps stretch can be an effective stretch to help improve the flexibility of the quadriceps muscles. Be sure to visit your physical therapist if you are having a difficult time stretching your quadriceps or if you require further guidance.