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The muscles in the thigh, called the quadriceps, are crucial for running and jumping, so it's important to stretch them to keep them limber. Some effective quadricep stretches include walking, jumping jacks, squats, and lunges. Quadricep stretches can also help prevent injury, since this muscle group can easily tear.
The quadriceps are a group of four muscles that make up the front of the thigh. The muscle group covers the front of the femur from the knee to the pelvis. Its main function is to extend the leg and stabilize the knee, and is important for such actions as walking, running, and jumping. The quadricep muscles also attach to the hip bone, so they are important for stabilizing the torso and allowing a person to stand up straight.
One of the most basic of quadricep stretches is the basic prone stretch. To do this exercise, a person should lie on his stomach. With his right hand, he should reach back and grab his right foot. Then will then pull the foot toward the buttocks as far as comfortable and hold for five seconds. This stretch is repeated with the left hand and left leg; each leg should be stretched five times.
Similar quadricep stretches can be done in a standing position. Standing close to a wall or object that can be used for support if necessary, the person should bend his right leg and raise the heel toward the buttocks. The foot is then grabbed with the right hand and pulled tightly into the gluteal muscles of the butt. The foot should be held for five seconds. This stretch should be repeated five times for each leg.
Squats and lunges are other good types of quadricep stretches. To do a squat, a person should stand with his feet shoulder length apart, pointing forward. Holding his hands straight out in front, he should slowly lower his buttocks as if he were going to sit. When the thighs are parallel with the floor, this position should be held for five to ten seconds, with the person being careful not to let his knees extend further forward than his toes. She should then slowly raise his body to the starting position, and repeat the exercise five times.
Lunges are similar to squats, but with one leg stretched backward. Standing with the feet pointing forward and the arms at his sides the person should take a large step forward with his right leg. He should then slowly bend the right knee and lower his body until his left knee approaches the floor; his right knee should be directly above the toes on the right foot. This position should be held for five to ten seconds. This procedure should be repeated for the opposite leg, and performed five times for each leg.
Other quadricep stretches include those that can be done with the help of exercise equipment. Most gyms have machines called leg extenders, which are lifted with the legs to stretch the quadriceps muscles. A person can also sit on an exercise ball and alternately raise each leg off the ground and hold it up for five seconds. Elastic bands looped around the soles of the feet can also stretch the quadriceps by providing resistance while doing leg extensions.
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