The 9 Best Quad Stretches For Runners: Stretching Guide

Running isn’t just about running. There are numerous essential factors that must be included in a runner’s life to become a well-rounded athlete and achieve peak running performance. Aside from actually running, warm-ups, cool downs, strength training, healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, physical therapy, and stretching should all be part of a runner’s schedule.

This guide will focus specifically on quad stretches for runners and give examples of static stretches to perform after any type of running workout or long run.

In this guide, we will discuss:

  • The Benefits of Stretching
  • What Are The Quadricep Muscles?
  • Tips For Stretching
  • 9 Quad Stretches For Runners


Let’s stretch!

Woman Stretching Left Quad

The Benefits of Stretching

Studies show that stretching at the appropriate times, dynamic stretching before a workout, and static stretching after a workout can give your body plenty of benefits to stay strong and injury-free. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reducing tension in the muscles
  • Decreasing soreness, or the DOMS, after workouts
  • Heping avoid muscle cramping
  • Increasing muscle blood flow  

For most, stretching can be tedious and an extra five minutes that we would prefer to designate to sleeping. Runners tend to squeeze in workouts with just enough time to get ready to rush out the door for work. However, taking those extra five minutes is genuinely worth the effort, as you can see from the long list of benefits for our bodies.

Woman Stretching Left Quad

Now let’s get into what you came for, the quads!

What Are The Quadricep Muscles?

Your quadriceps are a group of four muscles, the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris, located at the front of your thigh. These muscles are used every time you straighten or extend your knees.

Our quadriceps are not only imperative for running purposes but help us perform almost all of our day-to-day movements like standing, climbing stairs, and walking. Without them, we would literally fall flat on our faces. They are a pretty important muscle group, aren’t they?

Strengthening your quads is imperative for being a strong runner. This can be done with simple strength training exercises such as lunges and squats, using your body weight to start, and adding dumbells or kettlebells as your strength increases. These exercises will contribute to running performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

Before we jump into the quad stretches themselves, here are some tips to optimize all of your stretching sessions after a run: 

Tips For Static Stretching After A Run

  • Hold each stretch between 45 – 60 seconds to reap optimal benefits. This will give your muscles an adequate amount of time to relax into each position.
  • Try to relax your muscles while holding the stretch. This is easier said than done for sure, yet essential to allow the muscles to stretch properly.
  • Breath deeply while you stretch. With each exhale, try to gently stretch the muscle a tad more. You’ll feel your muscles relax with each breath.
  • Stretch your muscles gently. You should feel mild tension, but not pain. If you feel pain, let up on the stretch or stop completely. 

Ready? Let’s look at 9 of the best quad stretches for runners. 

Choose one or two of the following quad stretches to perform after each long run or workout. If you do them all, you’ll spend way too much time stretching just one muscle group and won’t have time for the rest. Remember to stretch out all muscle groups used in each particular workout, choosing a stretch or two for each.

Related: The 10 Best Glute Stretches For Runners

9 Quad Stretches For Runners

#1: Standing Quad Stretch

Standing Quad Stretch
  1. Stand with your feet at shoulder length apart. 
  2. Bend your right knee behind you and bring your right heel toward your right glute. 
  3. Grab your right foot with your right hand.
  4. Gently pull your heel upwards and toward your glute. Ensure your knees are kept close together. 
  5. Hold for 45-60 seconds.
  6. Repeat with your left leg. 

 #2: Lying Single-Leg Knee Hugs

Lying Single-Leg Knee Hugs
  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended. 
  2. Bring your right knee toward your chest. 
  3. Without lifting your head or back off the floor, gently grasp your leg just below the right knee with both hands.
  4. Gently pull your bent knee towards your chest. 
  5. Hold for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat with your left leg. 

#3: Lying Side Quad Stretch

Side lying quad stretch.
  1. Lie down on your right side and prop yourself up with your right elbow, or lower yourself down and support your head with your right hand.
  2. Bend your left knee and grasp your left foot with your left hand. 
  3. Pull your left foot toward your left glute, keeping your knees together. 
  4. Hold for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side.

#4: Kneeling Quad Stretch

Kneeling quad stretch.
  1. Begin in a lunge position with your right knee on the ground and left foot forward at a 90-degree angle. 
  2. Reach back and grasp your right foot with your right hand.
  3. Pull your right foot toward your right glute. Slightly lean your body forward ensuring your back stays straight.
  4. Hold for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other side.

#5: Double Quad Lie Back Stretch

Double quad lie back stretch
  1. Being in a kneeling position. Lower yourself down so you are sitting on the floor, between your feet.
  2. Slowly lower your body back towards the floor behind you until you feel a gentle stretch. Do not go back further than comfortable!  Some will be able to lie down compltely on the floor behind them, while most of us will feel the stretch with just a slight incline.
  3. Hold for 45-60 seconds.

#6: Child’s Pose

Some yoga poses prove excellent for runners and their stretching needs. Yes, we may not all have that fantastic yoga flexibility, but we can reap the benefits of these poses just as well.

Child's pose
  1. Kneel with toes pointed behind you. 
  2. Gently sit back until you are on top of your heels. 
  3. Bring your arms forward, bend at the waist and bring your chest towards the floor. 
  4. Reach forward with your hands flat on the ground in front of you and your elbows extended. 
  5. Bring your head down in between your arms while you continue to reach in your arms in front of you as far as you can.
  6. Hold the pose for 45-60 seconds.

#7 Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose.
  1. Start in the Downward Facing Dog pose, (an upside-down V position). 
  2. Bring your right knee forward toward your right wrist, keeping your left leg straight behind you. 
  3. Bend your right knee and gently lower your right glute to the ground.
  4. Lower your torso slightly over your right leg keeping your arms extended with elbows slightly bent. If you are flexible, you can bring yourself down to your elbows for a deeper stretch.
  5. Hold the pose for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other side.

#8: Lying Double-Leg Knee Hugs

Lying double knee hug stretch
  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended. 
  2. Bring your knees toward your chest. 
  3. Without lifting your head or back off the floor, gently grasp your legs just below knees with both hands.
  4. Gently pull your bent knees towards your chest. 
  5. Hold for 45-60 seconds. 

#9: Prone Quad Stretch With Resistance Band

Prone quad stretch.
  1. Lie on your stomach, facing the floor. 
  2. Bend your left knee bringing your heel toward your left glute. 
  3. Wrap a resistance band around your left foot. 
  4. With both hands, pull your left foot up and toward your glute with the resistance band. 
  5. Hold for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other side.

There you have it. Nine of the very best quad stretches for after your run or workout. Make stretching part of your daily routine, and reap the benefits!

If you haven’t been warming up before your runs and are looking to make that essential addition to your daily routine, look at our pre-run routine article for a helpful guide!

Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

6 thoughts on “The 9 Best Quad Stretches For Runners: Stretching Guide”

  1. 66 years old and will run my first 1/2 marathon in late April so jumped into my training a bit too enthusiastically after not running much since winter rolled in. 10+km today and 5th straight day of running after 30 hour intercontinental travel…what was I thinking??? Recovery day tomorrow with light weights. Surprised my quads were so sore. Hot epsom salts bath and then your stretches. 😉 thanks for mapping out much of what I know but seldom do…:-|


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