6 Best Quad and Hip Flexor Stretches and Exercises
Quad and Hip Flexor stretches to improve your quadriceps flexibility and relieve tight hip muscles.
by Brad Walker | First Published July 18, 2019
Sports that Benefit from Quad and Hip Flexor Stretches
Sports that benefit from the quad and hip flexor stretches below include: team sports like basketball, netball, football, gridiron, soccer, rugby and hockey. Plus any sport that involves a lot of running or walking, such as, track, cross country hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, orienteering and race walking.
Cycling, mountain biking, dancing, ballet, rowing, golf and martial arts also benefit from regular quad and hip flexor stretching.
Quad and Hip Flexor Muscles being Stretched
While performing the quad and hip flexor stretches below there are a number of muscles within the hip and quads that are stretched. Below is a comprehensive list of the anatomical muscle names involved in the following stretches.
- Psoas Major and Minor (Upper Hip);
- Iliacus (Upper Hip);
- Sartorius (Upper Quadriceps);
- Rectus Femoris (Upper Quadriceps; and
- Vastus Lateralis, Medialis and Intermedialis (Quadriceps).
Please note: The Iliopsoas is not an individual muscle, but a combination of two muscles; the psoas major and iliacus.
Quad and Hip Flexor Stretching Safety Guidelines
As with any sport or activity there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe. Stretching is no exception. Stretching can be harmful and cause injury if done incorrectly. It is vitally important that the following guidelines be adhered to, both for safety and for maximizing the benefits of stretches below.
- Breathe. Don’t hold your breath. Holding your breath causes tension and stress in your muscle, and can raise your blood pressure. The deeper you breathe, the more relaxed your muscles will be, and the deeper and longer you will be able to stretch.
- Never push a stretch beyond the point of mild discomfort. Stretching tight muscles can be uncomfortable, but you should never feel any sharp or stabbing pain. If you do, stop immediately; you are pushing the stretch too far.
- Be consistent. Stretching for a few minutes a couple of times a day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion over the long term. This is a better way to stretch, rather than stretching for a longer time only once a week.
- Wear loose comfortable clothing, as it’s difficult to stretch if your clothes are tight and restrict movement.
Sample Quad and Hip Flexor Stretches
Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Sample Quad and Hip Flexor Stretching Videos
Below you’ll find a few good stretches for your quads and hip flexors. But don’t rely on just a few stretches; it’s important to do a range of stretches for the buttocks, hamstrings, hips, groin and core. Please be careful, if you haven’t stretched your quads and hip muscles, some of these stretches will put a lot of stress on the muscles and tendons. Warm-up first, then proceed in a gradual and gently way.
Kneeling Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch (1:20) Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance. Push your hips forward. Regulate the intensity of this stretch by pushing your hips forward. If need be, place a towel or mat under your knee for comfort. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Lying on-your-side Quad and Hip Stretch (1:28) Lie on your side and pull your top leg behind your buttocks. Keep your knees together and push your hips forward. This position can put undue pressure on the knee joint and ligaments. Anyone with knee pain or knee injury should avoid this stretch. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Quad and Hip Stretch (1:20) Stand upright while balancing on one leg. Pull your other foot up behind your buttocks and keep your knees together while pushing your hips forward. Hold on to something for balance if needed. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Rotating Stomach and Hip Flexor Stretch (1:23) Lie face down and bring your hands close to your shoulders. Keep your hips on the ground, look forward and rise up by straightening your arms. Then slowly bend one arm and rotate that shoulder towards the ground. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, June 1). Iliopsoas, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Jones, O. (January 28, 2019). Muscles in the Anterior Compartment of the Thigh. Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://teachmeanatomy.info/lower-limb/muscles/thigh/anterior-compartment/.
- Winters, M. Blake, C. Trost, J. Marcello-Brinker, T. Lowe, L. Garber, M. Wainner, R. (2004). Passive Versus Active Stretching of Hip Flexor Muscles in Subjects With Limited Hip Extension: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Physical Therapy, 84(9):800–807.
- Mohr, A. Long, B. Goad, C. (2014). Effect of Foam Rolling and Static Stretching on Passive Hip-Flexion Range of Motion. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 23(4):296–299.
- Mills, M. Frank, B. Goto, S. Blackburn, T. Cates, S. Clark, M. Aguilar, A. Fava, N. Padua, D. (2015). Effect of restricted hip flexor muscle length on hip extensor muscle activity and lower extremity biomechanics in college-agedremale soccer players. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(7):946–954.
- Mohanty, P. Pattnaik, M. (2017). Effect of stretching of piriformis and iliopsoas in coccydynia. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 21(3), 743-746.
- Seif, H. Alenazi, A. Hassan, S. Kachanathu, S. Hafez, A. (2015). The Effect of Stretching Hamstring, Gastrocnemius, Iliopsoas and Back Muscles on Pain and Functional Activities in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Open Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 3, 139-145.
- Godges, J. MacRae, H. Longdon, C. Tinberg, C. MacRae, P. (2007). The Effects of Two Stretching Procedures on Hip Range of Motion and Gait Economy. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 10(9):350–357.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.