The Anatomy Of The Quadriceps & Hip Flexors

Understanding the anatomy of the both the quadriceps and hip flexors can help you better perform the hip stretches & quad stretches

The muscles located in the anterior compartment of the thigh include the hip
flexors and knee extensors.

The following muscles are in this compartment:

Hip Flexors


  • Adducts and flexes the thigh
  • Assists in medial rotation of the thigh


  • The most powerful hip flexor with the longest range
  • Relatively hidden and composed of the following muscles:
    • Iliacus
    • Psoas major
    • Psoas minor
Hip Flexors | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
The iliopsoas is the only muscle attached to the vertebral
column, pelvis, and femur
  • This helps produce the movement, as well as stabilize
  • However, with dysfunction, it can create problems, such as postural
    problems and pain.


  • Longest muscle in the body
  • Crosses two joints (hip and knee)
  • Flexes, abducts, and laterally rotates thigh at hip
  • Assists in knee flexion
Quadriceps Femoris
  • The quadriceps muscle group extends the leg at the knee
  • Composed of the following muscles:

Rectus femoris

  • Runs straight down the thigh
  • Crosses two joints (hip and knee). This helps the iliopsoas in hip
  • Is known as the “kicking muscle”. This is due to the flexion of
    the hip and extension of the knee needed in the kicking motion
Vastus lateralis
  • Largest of the three vastus muscles
  • Located on the outside (lateral) aspect of the thigh

Vastus medialis

  • Located on the inside (medial) aspect of the thigh

Vastus intermedius

  • Located under the rectus femoris
Quadriceps | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches

Benefits To Quad Stretches & Hip Stretches

The quadriceps muscles are used on a regular basis for daily activities and
even more so during sporting activities. They are prone to getting tight, which
can predispose an individual to strains.

Stretching will help:

  • Improve/maintain posture
    • Tight hip flexors can pull the
      pelvis and create posture problems
  • Decrease the likelihood of injury
  • Improve function

Hip Flexor & Quad Stretching Exercises

Prone Quad Stretch

Prone Quad Stretch 1 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
Prone Quad Stretch-2 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
  • Lie on your stomach and place a towel or belt around your foot.
  • Bend your knee by pulling on the towel until you feel a stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Relax.
  • Do not arch your back during the stretch.
  • You can put a pillow under your hips for more comfort.

Side Lying Quad Stretch

Side Lying Quad Stretch 1 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
Side Lying Quad Stretch 2 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
  • Lie on your side with your injured leg up and your bottom knee bent in
    front of you to protect your back.
  • Reach back and grasp your ankle of your injured leg and gently pull towards
    your buttocks.
  • Move your knee back without arching your back until you feel a stretch in
    the front of your thigh.
  • Keep your knee as low to the floor as possible and maintain the
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • You can use a towel or a belt around your ankle to pull it towards your

Standing Quad Stretch

Standing Quad Stretch-1 |Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
Standing Quad Stretch-2 |Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
  • Stand in front of a chair or something solid and hold on to it with one
  • Grab the top of one ankle with one hand to pull foot towards buttock until
    you feel a gentle stretch on the front of the thigh.
  • Keep lower back neutral.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Return to the initial position.

Hip Flexor Stretch (v.1)

Hip Flexor Stretch v1-1 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
Hip Flexor Stretch v1-2 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
  • Kneel on one knee creating a 90-degree angle with the opposite hip (use a
    chair for support, if needed).
  • Tilt your pelvis backwards to flatten your lower back and transfer your
    weight forward until you feel a gentle stretch on the front of your hip of the
    lower leg.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat on the other side.
  • Maintain your upper body upright and your lower back flatten (not

Hip Flexor Stretch (v.2)

Hip Flexor Stretch v2-1 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
Hip Flexor Stretch v2-2 | Hip Stretches & Quad Stretches
  • Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one leg back, keeping one cheek on
    the seat.
  • Keep your back neutral.
  • You should feel a comfortable stretch on the front of your hip.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Breathe normally throughout the stretch.

  • Howley, E. T., & Franks, B. D. (2007). Fitness Professional’s Handbook (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Moore, K. L., & Dalley, A. F. (2006). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (5th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Nieman, D. C. (2011). Exercise Testing and Prescription: A Health-Related Approach (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Sá, M. A., Neto, G. R., Costa, P. B., Gomes, T. M., Bentes, C. M., Brown, A. F., et al. (2015, Mar 29). Acute Effects of Different Stretching Techniques on the Number of Repetitions in A Single Lower Body Resistance Training Session. Journal of Human Kinetics , 177–185.
  • Sherwood, L., & Kell, R. (2010). Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, First Canadian Edition. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.