After a series of outdoor runs this week, I wasn't prepared for how on fire my quads would feel during today's yoga class. Going through the Warrior poses proved difficult, and by the time we moved into a variation of pigeon pose, I was breathing deeper than ever before. It was a good reminder that even though I always stretch after working out, I don't give enough attention to my quads — a much overworked and overlooked muscle group. Whether a runner, hiker, or cyclist, everyone can benefit from giving their quads a little extra love. Here are five stretches to get you started.
- Standing Quad Stretch. This basic quad stretch is probably one you're already familiar with. It's great because you can do it almost anywhere — you don't need a lot of space or equipment because you can do it right where you're already standing. Make sure your knees are touching when you do this stretch and hold on each side for 20-30 seconds. And, if you can't balance, don't worry — just use the wall to support yourself.
- Lying Side Quad Stretch. Sometimes during my yoga practice, or while I'm in bed, I'll do this stretch. It's a bit more relaxing, and you don't have to worry about falling over! Try it the next time you're watching TV.
- Kneeling Quad Stretch. This stretch is a variation of the basic standing stretch, but the support of the wall will give it a bit more intensity. If you have bad knees this might not be the stretch for you — I recommend making a knee pad out of a small towel.
- Double Quad Stretch. Take that kneeling stretch to the floor, and by doing so makes things a little more intense! The upside is that you'll be lying down, which is pretty relaxing.
- Half Frog Pose. While many yoga poses challenge your muscles to work harder, many offer relief. Half Frog pose is a great one to do after a series of challenging standing poses like the Warrior Triangle sequence. It will be a deeper quad stretch than you might be used to, but it's well worth it. If Half Frog pose still feels like kid stuff, challenge yourself with Frog pose instead, which stretches both quads simultaneously.