Positioned on the front or anterior of the thigh, the quadriceps consist of four muscles. These muscles are called the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris. Attached to the front portion of the tibia, most of the muscles of the quadriceps begin at the top portion of the femur. However, the rectus femoris starts at the pelvis and extends across the hip joint.
The quadriceps work to allow for the straightening of the knee and leg extension. Like the other muscles of the quadriceps, the rectus femoris helps in extending the knee. However, it also serves as a hip flexor.
It is important to keep your quadriceps strong to allow for the highest level of flexibility, as well as to prevent injury. There are exercises and stretches helpful in keeping quadriceps strong and limber. Taking care of your quadriceps not only helps to guard against muscle injuries, but can also help to support the knee joint and protect it from injury. Such exercises can be found on the Internet, as well as in fitness magazines and books. Keep in mind, however, that it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise or stretching program.
Straight leg raises are helpful for encouraging strong quadriceps. To do a leg raise, lie on the floor with your legs held straight out in front. Next, bend one of your knees at a 90-degree angle; keep the foot of that leg flat on the floor. Keeping your other leg straight, flex your foot and lift the straight leg slowly until it is six inches off the floor. Hold it in that position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower it to the ground. Repeat ten times before switching to the other leg.
Many exercises for the quadriceps are useful for strengthening the hip flexors as well. Be sure to concentrate on contracting the quadriceps while performing the exercises. Also, it is best to start slowly with any new exercise routine. Exercising too fast and too hard can lead to injury.
You can also use exercise machines to train and strengthen your quadriceps. Among the best exercises you can do with a machine are leg extensions, lying machine squats, hack squats, leg presses, and thigh abductors. To enjoy the maximum benefit of these and other machine exercises, be sure to pay attention to proper form. Proper form is also important for preventing injuries.