You don’t need to take a yoga or stretching class to improve flexibility as long as you’re diligent about carving out a few minutes a day to stretch yourself. Like daily SPF it’s something we all know we need to do, but most of us don’t. Don’t wait till you’re injured! I spoke with Gloveworx coach Shaq Williams to get his insight on the best ways to improve flexibility in our everyday lives.
The quadricep stretches below can be easily implemented in everyday life at three crucial times of the day:
- “In the morning as soon as you wake up on your bed. You can you use the height of the bed to lean on to then stretch your hamstring and quad”
- “During office hours, you should stretch again for five minutes, especially if you are sitting at a desk. Make sure you are aware of how long you are sitting and repeat the stretches for these body parts.”
- “Take advantage you have of every opportunity you have to move because moving is stretching (take the stairs over an elevator).”
- “At night, when on the couch, you can stretch there or on the floor right in front of the couch if you’re taking it easy.”
Williams singles out the below stretches:
The Lying Quad Stretch
The best quad stretches are those that address not just the quadriceps, but all aspects of your leg, from the hip to the thigh, to the foot. The lying quad stretch is great for people who suffer from knee pain, as well as those who prefer reclining to standing up.
- Lie in a face-down position, propping your head on your left hand. Alternatively, you can lie on your side to perform this stretch.
- After a couple of seconds, pull your right foot toward your butt and bend your left knee to stabilize yourself.
- Hold onto your ankle and maintain the position for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides, pulling your left foot toward your back and bending your right knee.
The Simple Quad Stretch
This simple stretch exercise is great for fixing your muscles, anytime, anywhere.
- Stand on your left leg, one knee touching the other. You can hold a chair or the wall to keep you steady if needed.
- Grab your right foot, using your right hand, and pull it towards your butt. Be sure to push your chest up and hips forward. Try not to worry about pushing your foot too close to your backside; your focus should be on feeling the stretch in your quad muscle and pushing your hips forward to get a good hip flexor stretch
- Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.
The Kneeling Quad Stretch
A slightly different form of quad stretch, this position will help to loosen the muscles just above the knee joint, increasing mobility and preventing knee pain.
- Start the stretch in a high lunge position, with your left foot forward.
- Carefully drop your right knee to the floor and take a moment to find your balance.
- Once you’re ready, reach back with your right arm, and grab your ankle, or toes, depending on what’s easiest.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds, keeping your body steady.
- Gradually come back into the lunge position and switch from your left foot to your right.
Lying Pigeon Progression
Some of the best quad stretches originate from yoga. This particular pose is an excellent way to stretch not only your quads but your quadratus lumborum (back) as well. It’s also a great hip flexor stretch and can help you progress to the pigeon and pigeon twist stretches.
- Place a mat on the floor and lie face down.
- Secure a resistance band around your left foot, with the excess band in a reachable area.
- Grab the band with your left hand. While keeping your right leg extended, bend your left knee, keeping your toes pointed toward the ceiling.
- Use the resistance band to pull forward until you feel the stretch. Hold for twenty seconds then pull further.
- Repeat on the other side.
The Frog Pose
If you’re looking to stretch out the gluteus maximus and the thighs, then this could be the great stretching pose for you. It will also help to stretch your arms, chest, and shoulder blades.
- Begin by lying on your stomach, propping your torso up on your elbows.
- Bend both of your knees, and reach back to hold onto your feet. You should already feel the stretching at this point.
- Adjust your fingers to point the same way as your toes, then carefully lift up your elbows to point to the ceiling.
- Push your chest up as high as you can.
- Stop the pose completely if you feel any pain in your hip or knee.
- Stay here for five breaths, then relax.