Muscle of the Month: Quadriceps
Last week coach Jeanmarie Scordino taught us about movement literacy and how to use understanding of movement basics and the physical laws of nature to get better exercise results.
When asked why movement literacy is so important, Jeanmarie said, “Through examining the principles of movement literacy, we understand that the body is a system of chain reactions. The human body is composed of many muscles, fascia, bones, tendons and ligaments all working together (synergistically) to create all the motions we need to be successful in our daily lives.”
She explained further, “In life, we do not move in isolation: the quadriceps never take a walk by themselves and the deltoid does not shoot a three pointer alone. While it is at times appropriate to localize our training to a specific area, we must always remember the importance of looking at the body as a chain, where each segment has a direct and indirect influence on the whole. With this understanding, we are enabled to create programs that allow us to DANCE! Whether dancing on the athletic field, the back yard or anyplace you happen to want to be in motion, creating happy joints and strong balanced muscles with free flowing movements will help us keep dancing through life!”
Comprised of four separate muscles in front of the thigh:
- Rectus Femoris
- Vastus group surrounding the femur bone including the Lateralis (on the lateral or outside of the femur)
- Vastus Medialis (on the inner or medial side of the femur)
- Vastus Intermedius (lies in the middle, in front of the femur)
Click here for a visual representation (GIF): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Quadriceps_3D.gif
If you look at the moving image, you can see the true 3-dimensional orientation. Because the muscles not only run up and down in front of the leg but also diagonally wrap around the thigh before inserting on the tibia (bone below the kneecap), they must play a part in moving the leg in more directions than just forward and back.
Popular Exercises for Quadriceps
If you Google “best exercises for quadriceps” you are sure to find leg extensions as a number one hit for strength building and static leg curl for flexibility.
Since both of these exercises move the leg front to back, they are a great way to build quadricep strength and flexibility for the muscles oriented up to down. But what about the fibers that run lateral to horizontal wrapping around the thigh?
Last week in the rubber band analogy, Jeanmarie demonstrated the importance of stretching the muscles in all the directions they run to give adequate “loading” to best engage the muscles. In the case of the quadriceps, inclusion of lateral and rotational leg movements help provide a more well rounded and true to function exercise program.
Best Exercises for the Quads
If we use Jeanmarie’s advice, we can use varied foot positions to help change the amount and the direction of stretch applied to the quadriceps. This strategy enhances both mobility and strengthening capacity.
To target the quadriceps, try using 7 foot positions with a pelvic reach. The 7 foot positions vary the feet in the 3 planes of motion and include:
- Right foot forward
- Left Foot forward
- Toes Out
- Toes In
For mobility, try a hip rock. With feet stationary, reach the pelvis front to back, right to left and rotate right and left. Do 3-5 repetitions in each direction. Pay attention to what is happening at the front of the thigh when the feet are in each position. Do you notice how each position feels a little different? When you have your right foot forward, do you feel greater stretching to the quadriceps on the back leg (front of the left leg)?
To improve strength of quadriceps, try a mini-squat, but don’t forget to use the 7 different foot positions! This exercise reaches the pelvis behind the body. By using the varied foot positions, the quadriceps muscle fibers are not only strengthened in the up and down orientation, but also in lateral and rotational segments.
WECOACH Land Series
Get stronger using exercises that feel good! Join Jeanmarie as she coaches you how to move in a comfortable range and get better results.
Each 10 minute land exercise program can be done on it’s own or together for a 30-minute workout.
- Reduce pain and stiffness using gentle hip movements and reaching combinations.
- Improve lower body strength for stronger knees and hips.
- Step and reach in 6 directions to improve core strength and balance.
Normally you can rent for as little as $2.95 or purchase each workout for $7.95 each.
This month you can purchase ALL 3 workouts for only $9.95. Enter code at checkout: GETMOVING
“So simple, yet so effective! My husband and his cranial sacral therapist have noticed a big difference in his flexibility of movement. It is easy and quick to do and I felt taller and move mobile the first time I used it.” – Ruth from Virginia
Thanks for reading,