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Published on February 1, 2019

9 Most Effective Quad Stretches to Reduce Pain During and After Workout

9 Most Effective Quad Stretches to Reduce Pain During and After Workout

What’s the quad you ask? The quadricep muscle is located in the upper half of your leg and at the front of your thigh. It’s the big strong muscle that goes from the top of your knee through to your waist, and when you overwork it during a workout it can hurt, make you feel tired, and make for a real tough day.

If you are concerned that a workout is proving more pain than gain, and that you’re feeling tired and inefficient in your work and personal life, some quad stretching will do you good. Provided that your doctor has given you the thumbs up to workout, quad stretches will give you the power up and perk you crave in your day to day.

While stretching cannot completely relieve you from muscle pain, quad stretches may temporarily help ease the pressure. You can try these stretches in the office, at home, or at the gym.

So let’s get into it. Here are the top 9 most effective quads stretches to help you reduce muscle pain after that gruelling workout.

1. Lying Side Quad Stretch

The lying side quad stretch is fantastic if you are having issues with your knee or if you would rather recline than standing up, be it for balance or ease. To do this quad stretch effectively, carry out the following steps:

  • Lie down on either side propping your head up with one hand and bent elbow. Pull your outer foot towards your head until you feel the quad muscle activate. If you are having trouble with staying steady, bend your bottom knee as this will help keep an overall balance.
  • Hold the lying quad stretch for about 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat for your other quad muscle.

2. Easy Quad Stretch

The easy quad stretch can be done anywhere, anytime, but requires a little more balance than the lying stretch just covered. It’s one of the most common stretches that you’ll see people do and can be easily done in the office to make your workday feel great. To achieve this stretch, perform the following steps:

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  • Stand straight on one leg. If you are struggling to balance, use a wall, a chair, or an unassuming friend, to keep you balanced.
  • Grab your non balancing foot with your corresponding hand, and pull upwards toward your torso. Ensure you maintain your chest upright. Keep your focus on achieving a good stretch from this quad and feel the day to day efficiency benefits the next day.
  • Hold for approximately 30 seconds, and then stretch the other leg exactly the same way.

3. Kneeling Quad Stretch

For a slightly different effect from reclined and standing stretches, the kneeling quad stretch relaxes muscles located right above your knee as well.

This stretch is ideal if you’re pregnant or elderly as there is reduced pressure and balance required on the rest of the body. You can use a soft cushion or pillow under the knee if you find the floor uncomfortable.

To achieve this quad stretch, carry out the following steps:

  • Begin in a high lunge position, stepping your right foot forward. Drop your left knee slowly to the ground.
  • Take a deep breath and slowly adjust to remain balanced. Reach back for your left foot and grab your toes with your left arm, once you are stabilized.
  • Hold this quad stretch for about 30 seconds. Once time is up, slowly release your hold on the left foot, then come back to a high lunge position. Switch sides and follow the same steps for the other knee.

4. Pigeon Twist

This yoga pose stretch is more challenging than the other ones we’ve been through, but fantastic for stretching quads and giving you more energy and less workout pain throughout your busy day.

To achieve this quad stretch, carry out the following steps:

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  • Begin in a downward facing dog position. Bring forward your right knee between your hands forming a pigeon pose.
  • Rest your right hand next to your right chin, then bend your left knee.
  • Using your left hand, reach for your left foot and gently press your left foot’s sole in the direction of your left hip.
  • Put your right on top of your left foot and slightly twist to the left side. Wrapping your left hand round your back as shown in the picture above. If possible, grab onto your upper right thigh located in front of your hip.
  • Using your hands, press into your body, getting deeper into the twist. Hold on here for about five breaths before releasing your hands and straightening out your left leg.
  • Twisting your body back towards the right and plant your palms on either side of your right knee.
  • Stepping your right leg back, come into the downward facing dog position for one complete breath. Now bring forward your left knee in between your hands. Rinse and repeat for the other side.

5. Frog Pose

The frog pose stretches both quads at the same time; a good time saver if you’re looking for a quick tiredness fix. However, this move will also give you a wonderful stretch on your shoulders and chest.

To achieve this pose, carry out the following steps:

  • Lie down on your stomach and prop your chest up with your elbows, then bend your knees reaching your hands out back in order to hold on to your feet.
  • Now turn your fingers ensuring that they point in similar direction as your toes and lift up your elbows, ensuring that they point toward the ceiling. You can then lift your torso as high as possible to feel the muscles activate.
  • In case you experience pain in your knees during this, refrain from pressing your foot down too hard. Alternatively, you can perform one side at a time if you find this quad stretch too challenging.
  • Hold on here for approximately five deep breaths and release.

6. Straight Leg Raises

In case your knee hurts after a workout, begin with this simple strengthening stretch for your quadriceps. Straight leg raises will put little to no strain on your knees.

To achieve this stretch, carry out the following steps:

  • Lie on the floor with your back on any other flat surface. A gym or yoga mat will make this more comfortable
  • Bend one knee, and place the other flat and straight on the floor.
  • Keeping your other leg bent on the floor, raise the flat leg to the height of your bent knee.
  • Repeat this move 10 to 15 times for three sets to get the most out of it, and to feel great the next day.

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7. Hamstring Curls

The hamstrings are muscles located along the back end of your thighs, so the other side of your quads. Whilst a hamstring curl predominantly stretches that muscle, it also activates the quad. Two birds, one stone!

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by lying flat on your stomach.
  • Bring your heels slowly up and as close to your back hip as possible. Hold this position.
  • Perform three sets of 15.
  • You can perform this move standing up also, while holding a chair and lifting one leg at a time. In case you find this too easy why not add a weight on your ankle, gradually increasing the weight from one to five pounds.

8. Prone Straight Leg Raises

The prone straight leg raise takes into account a lot of elements to the quad stretches we have covered so far. You’ll also need a bit of flexibility in order to do this efficiently and feel the benefits.

To achieve this quad stretch, carry out the following steps:

  • Lie down on your stomach and keep your legs stretched out.
  • Tighten the muscles in the hamstring of both legs, lifting one leg toward the ceiling.
  • Hold on this position for about 5 seconds. Lower your lifted leg, and repeat.
  • Perform 10 to 15 lifts, then switch sides for the other leg. You can add more ankle weights while gaining strength.
  • Remember, you should not feel back pain during this stretch. In case you do, consider limiting how high you lift your leg or revert to one of the other quad stretches covered.

9. Wall Squats

The wall squats is an advanced quad stretch that activates a lot of other muscles too.

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To achieve this quad stretch, carry out the following steps:

  • Keeping your feet on the floor and shoulder length apart, stand up with your back against the wall.
  • Bend your knees slowly, and keep your pelvis and back against the wall.
  • Hold this position for about 10 seconds. Do not bend too low. In case you feel discomfort or pressure in your knees, consider reducing the bend and alleviating the pressure in the stretch.
  • Repeat this move 3-5 times, trying to hold the sitting position a few seconds more each time.

Are These Quad Stretches Worth It?

The overall benefits of quad stretching is indisputable. Feeling often tired, unable to do what you want to do after a stressful workout do happens.

Quad stretches helps increase the range of motion around your and also loosens up stiffness in your muscles. This will help your muscles withstand exertion better after a stressful workout.

When your tendons and muscles are not stretched, they will not work properly as well. This may escalate the chances of you developing a particular tear or strain.

In case you feel you have a severe muscle pain, it is advisable that you see your doctor. However, if the pain is bearable, it is advisable that you go by the general rule RICE: “Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.” Also, avoid the moves until the pain is bearable.

Featured photo credit: Matthew LeJune via unsplash.com

More by this author

Angus King

Professional working in the cycling industry

9 Most Effective Quad Stretches to Reduce Pain During and After Workout

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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