After an hours-long drive to your destination race or a long day sitting at your desk, you’ve likely felt the discomfort of tight hip flexors. Before you head out for your evening run or off on a pre-race shakeout, spending just two minutes performing the wall quad stretch can reverse the effects of several hours’ worth of sitting, allowing you to run freely and comfortably from the moment you head out the door. And if the name wasn’t a giveaway, it’ll loosen up your quads, too.
How to do the wall quad stretch
The wall quad stretch targets the muscles at the front of your thigh, hip and pelvis, and is an intensely effective stretch when performed correctly. This can be highly beneficial for runners, who tend to struggle with tight hips, hip flexors and quads.
Before you begin, it’s important to remember that the aim of this stretch is not to push your limits, which will create a stress response in your body and cause you to tense up even more. Instead, the goal is to ease into the stretch, and only stretch as far as you can while maintaining deep, even breaths. If your breath starts to become shallow, or you notice you’ve started to hold your breath, you’ve gone too far and should ease up.
To perform the stretch, all you need is a wall and a pillow or towel to cushion your knee. To get into the stretch, you’re going to place one knee on the floor (start about four inches or 20 cm from the wall) with your lower leg leaning against the wall behind you. Then bring your other knee forward with your foot planted firmly on the floor in front of you for balance, at a 90-degree angle to your quad.
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If you’re having trouble maintaining balance, position something (like a chair) close by that you can hold on to. If you can, raise your torso to an upright position, with your hips square and your butt tucked in, while breathing deeply. Hold for one minute, then switch sides.
The closer your knee is to the wall, the more intense the stretch will be, so start at a spot that feels comfortable, then gradually move your knee closer to the wall as you breathe into the stretch.
Check out the video below for step-by-step instructions and tips to maximize the stretch. Just a minute per side in the position at the end of your work day or after a long drive will have you feeling looser and more relaxed, and ready to hit the roads, trails, or wherever your run will take you.