The quadriceps are a group of muscles on the front of your thigh, between your hip and knee. The primary function of these muscles is to extend the knee when you straighten your leg out. When helped by other muscles on the front of your hip, the quads also flex your hip when your knee comes forward or up towards your chest.
Tight and heavy quads are well known to cyclists or spin class goers, and runners will also maybe be aware of them after a sprint session. Most folk might not particularly notice much discomfort in their quads, but think how many times in the day that you straighten your knee and move your leg forward; walking, climbing the stairs, standing up from sitting. Your quads will thank you for some attention.
Quad Stretch - Standing
Target area: Quads
This is an oldie but a goldie. You’re almost guaranteed to have done this at school PE or at a Parkrun. It’s pretty straightforward and does the trick pretty nicely. If balance isn't your thing then perhaps use something for support or there are lots of other tricks like holding your ear, twirling one hand, focusing on a fixed point. However good your balance is, bracing your core (pulling in your belly button) will help with this.
Stand on one foot, using/doing a something for support if needed for balance. Bend the other leg behind and, with that sames side arm, grab your foot. Perhaps you might only manage to get to your ankle, which is fine. To increase the stretch, try to push forward with your hips. Hold here for 30 seconds or so before swapping over to the other leg.
If balance is an issue, or there’s a reason you just can’t stand on one leg, then this stretch can be done lying on your side too. Similar idea, lie on one side, bend the top leg behind you and hold your foot/ankle with the top arm. Hold for 30 seconds before turning over and repeating on the other leg.
To stretch your lateral (outside) quads more, you can hold your bent leg with the opposite hand. This creates a slightly different stretch. If you have any knee issues, just be aware of pressure on your knee and ligaments so just ease in to this or avoid if you are injured.
Target area: TFL (tensor fascia latae)
The TFL is a short muscle at the top of the thigh, around about where your trouser pocket would be. The TFL attaches to the iliotibial band (ITB) and this can sometimes create issues when if the TFL gets overly tight. Tightness in the TFL can add to tension of the ITB, which can in turn create pain in the outer knee.
From standing, cross one foot behind the other and lean in the same direction as this foot has moved. To increase the stretch, lift the arm (on the same side as the crossed over leg) and reach slightly further across. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 30 seconds or so before repeating on the opposite side.