Composed of four large muscles, the quadriceps form the large front portion of the thigh. Due to their use in many physical activities, the quadriceps have a tendency to get sore post-workout. There are a variety of ways to perform a quadriceps stretch, and the traditional quadriceps stretch can be done in either a standing or sitting position or while lying down, either sideways or prone.
The traditional quadriceps stretch involves grabbing the ankle of one leg and bending the leg as far as possible toward the buttocks while keeping the other leg straight. If doable, the heel of the foot should make contact with the buttocks. To do the stretch while standing, slowly lift the leg to be stretched off of the ground and make sure that balance can be maintained on the other foot that is still on the ground. As this can be difficult, it is advised to stretch near a wall or other surface on which balance can be kept with use of the hand on the same side of the body as the foot on the ground.
Next bend the stretching leg up toward the buttocks and grab the ankle with the appropriate hand. Slowly pull the foot upward, further bending the leg, until either the heel makes contact with the buttocks or the maximum stretch has been reached. Hold the the foot in place for the desired period of time — 15 or 30 seconds is generally a good number to start with — and then slowly release the foot and unbend the leg while returning the foot to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. To perform a quadriceps stretch while lying sideways on a flat surface, follow the same motion as with the standing method of stretching, slowly bending the leg toward the buttocks and pulling the heel in.
Lying prone will sufficiently decrease the range of motion, and therefore the prone stretch does not require the hand to pull the leg toward the buttocks. Lie facedown on a firmly padded surface and position the arms, bent at the elbows, beneath the chest. Slowly push upward with the arms, bending backward at the waist, until the lower portion of the arms, bent at the elbow, is flat against the surface and the upper portion of the arms is extended straight upward. When this position is reached, slowly bend the knee, bringing the foot in an arc toward the buttocks. Most people cannot bring the heel into contact with the buttocks, so when the maximum stretch has been reached, hold the leg in that position for the desired period of time.