Towel Quadriceps Stretch

Use a towel to stretch the quads on the front of the thigh.
A towel can be used to help stretch the quadriceps muscle. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

For many people, stretching the quadriceps muscles can be challenging. Reaching back to your ankle or bending your knee far enough to stretch your quads may be difficult. So, is there an easy and effective way to stretch your quadriceps muscles? Yes, there is, and your physical therapist can show you how to do the ultimate quad stretch: the towel quadriceps stretch.

The quadriceps muscle is a group of four muscles that are located in the front of your thigh. The quads, as they are often called, help to straighten your knee and are also responsible for keeping your kneecap in its proper position.

Tightness in your quads may cause kneecap tracking issues like patellofemoral stress syndrome or subluxations of the patella. A lack of flexibility in this muscle group may also lead to more significant injuries, like a quad strain or patella tendon tear during vigorous athletic activity.

Stretching exercises for the quadriceps can be performed to help keep this muscle group functioning optimally. Many people have a difficult time stretching their quads, especially if they are considerably tight. Stretching the quads requires you to bend your knee pretty far, and often it is difficult for people to reach their lower leg to fully bend the knee and stretch the quadriceps.

There is a solution: the towel quadriceps stretch.

How to Perform the Towel Quadriceps Stretch

First, be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Then, visit your physical therapist who can show you how to properly perform the towel quad stretch.

  1. Obtain a towel. If you don't have one handy, you can use a strap or your belt. The sash from your bathrobe may be a good item to use for this exercise.
  2. Lie on your stomach, bend one knee up, and loop the towel around your ankle.
  3. Reach behind you and grab both ends of the towel with one hand. If shoulder pain or limited shoulder range of motion prevents you from reaching the towel, you may wish to try the towel shoulder stretch first.
  4. Gently pull on the towel so your knee bends and a gentle stretch is felt in the front of your thigh.
  5. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, and then slowly release. Repeat the stretch three to five times on each leg.
  6. You should feel a comfortable stretch while gently pulling on the towel or strap. The stretch-feeling should go away once you release the towel and take the stretch off your quad muscle. If you experience any sharp pain, you must stop the exercise immediately.

This quad stretch can be performed multiple times per day to help improve overall quadriceps flexibility. It is also a great exercise to help combat the painful condition called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Stretching can also simply make you feel good.

A Word from Verywell

The towel quadriceps stretch can be an effective stretch to help improve the flexibility of the quadriceps muscles. Be sure to visit your physical therapist to learn the best way for you to be stretching your quads. Your PT can also help you if you are having a difficult time stretching your quadriceps or if you require further guidance.