Lunge Quad Stretch

February 17, 2019

Lunges and quad stretches can make you feel taller and more energized. When we lunge we create a pattern opposite many of our daily activities that require a lot of flexion at the hip or locking at the knee. For example, sitting, walking, driving, cycling, running, and prolonged standing. Lunges and quad stretches can free up some of the muscles that contract to keep the front of the hip closing and knee straight while using an energy efficient way to stand like psoas major, iliacus, the vastus group, rectus femoris and sartorius.

If the muscular system of the human body is a language that does not come easy to you, enjoy this Body Map from healthline.com by following this LINK (not the picture). On this website you can click around on the map to see what’s going on under your skin.

healthline.com muscular system body map

There are a multitude of ways to approach a lunge that range from basic to a complicated balancing act. In this diagram if read from left to right and top to bottom you will see a progressive way of approaching opening up the front of the hip and thigh.

There are lots of options for quad stretching if these are not accessible for you by using a wall, a chair ledge and other various yoga props. Sphinx pose is very gentle on the front of the hip and adding holding one foot for Ardha Bekasana may also be easier to target this part of your body than the below sequence. Please do not see this as a definitive list but rather a starting point for students comfortable getting down on the ground and holding a foot.

lunge and quad stretch progression

Let’s unpack this a bit more.

STEP 1
lunge stage 1

The first step shown is an upright 90/90 degree lunge (see the angles of the legs?). To enhance your experience you might also lift the arm of the same side leg that has the knee down. Scoop your buttocks down and lift your ribcage up on all sides.

STEP 2
lunge stage 2

In the second step keep the front leg at 90 degrees and begin to extend the hip of the bottom leg.

STEP 3
lunge stage 3
lunge stage 4

Here the front hip flexes more deeply, as does the knee and ankle. This will all further the stretch along the front of the back leg and hip but increases the chances of error on the front side. Be mindful to hug to the midline, support your low back by toning across the frontal hip points and across the top of the abdomen with the corseting transverse abdominus.

The knee is a hinge joint designed to close but if you feel pain within the knee it could mean you are staining the support systems there. Stretching the calves may also be needed to deeply dorsi flex the ankle here.

STEP 4
lunge stage 5

Now we are finally targeting all 4 of the quadriceps muscles and the longest muscle in the body, sartorius. Prior only the vastus group of the quads were lengthening. Rectus Femoris crosses both the hip and knee joints so in order to stretch this muscle that assists in closing the front of the hip and straightening the leg, you must close the knee and extend the hip to pull the slack out of both ends of the muscle.

STEP 5
lunge stage 6

A continuation of step 4, here you’ll notice again I’ve increased the flexion of the front leg hip, knee and ankle. I’m purposely sitting towards my front heel to demonstrate the possibility here. Hugging the midline and being strong is a part of the path to flexibility.

Have you noticed in Iyengar’s Light On Yoga he picks his heel up in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana ? Although not a full quad stretch due to how open the back knee is, it’s interesting to note the deep closing of the front leg hip, knee and ankle.
eka-pada-rajakapotasana-2-iyengar

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