Quadriceps exercises

Diagram showing quadricep muscle above kneeThe leg has many muscles that allow us to walk, run, jump and move. The quadriceps are a group of four muscles on the front of the thigh, together they form one of the largest muscle groups in the body.

They work to help extend the knee and flex the hip. The quadriceps can become tight if you spend a lot of time sitting.

This tightness can change the way you walk and contribute to increased pressure on foot and ankle structures. Therefore, it is important to stretch them regularly to help improve the range of motion and improve function.

 

It is normal to feel some discomfort with stretching but the stretch should not be painful. If you have new pain or your current symptoms worsen stop doing the exercises.

Remember

  • Warm up your muscles before you stretch (e.g. stretch after a walk)
  • Engage your tummy muscles and keep your back straight
  • Stretch until you feel mild discomfort, not pain
  • Never bounce or force a stretch
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and then relax
  • Do not hold your breath when stretching
  • Stretch at least 2-3 times per week

Kneeling on floor with one knee lifted and foot in frontThis stretch is ideal if you are unable to balance on one leg, but not good if you have knee problems.

  • Kneel on the floor.
  • Put your right leg out in front of you, with your heel beneath your knee.
  • Lean forwards to put more weight through your right leg.
  • Feel the stretch in the front of your left thigh and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times each side, three times a day.

Man lying on side, with right arm behind back holding right toesThis stretch is ideal if you are unable to balance. However if you struggle to get off the floor, you may want to lie on your bed to do the stretch. 

  • Lie on your left side with your head supported.
  • Bend your right knee and hold the ankle with your right hand.
  • Draw your right heel back towards your buttock, push your right hip forwards to maintain a straight line from your back to leg and pull your knee back.
  • Feel the stretch in front of your thigh and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times each side, three times a day.

Man standing beside table, one hand on table and the other arm by side holding ankle of corresponding legThis stretch is ideal if you have good balance.

  • Stand with feet together. Hold on to a support with your right hand.
  • Bend left knee and hold the ankle with your left hand.
  • Draw your left heel back towards your buttock, push your left hip forwards to maintain a straight line from your back to leg and pull your knee back.
  • Feel the stretch in front of your thigh and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times each side, three times a day.

It is important to keep your back, hip and leg in line. 

This stretch is ideal for children or those needing help from a partner.

  • Lie on your tummy with a folded hand-towel under your left leg.
  • Your helper stabilises the base of your back with one hand and with the other helps to push your lower leg towards your buttock until you feel a slight stretch.
  • Feel the stretch in front of your thigh and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times each side, three times a day.

 

If your problem does not improve as you would expect with the self-care exercises, after 6-12 weeks of following the advice, you should contact a healthcare professional for advice. 

This may be your GP, Pharmacist, NHS Podiatry Service or a Private Podiatrist. Please make sure your podiatrist is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and look out for the letters HCPC after their name. 

Please note good compliance with daily stretching may take up to 6 – 8 weeks before the benefits are felt.

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