A good quad stretch can be so helpful for functional movement and release of low back pain. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to totally miss these muscles when trying to stretch them…
That leads us to one of the interesting things about this pose – the relationship we observe between the hip flexors (the iliopsoas and quads located in the front of the hips) and the low back. When we do this pose always fix the sacrum in place here so that we can target the stretch into the hip flexors. Without the pressure on the sacrum keeping the pelvis on the floor, you will see the bottom begin to lift from the tension in the deepest hip flexors and the low back becomes compromised and often painful. This is because we are actually unconsciously flexing the hips (this is why the bottom rises up when we don’t fix the pelvis to the floor. We TRY to stretch them and totally miss them. This pose does NOT miss them 🙂 And shows us that, sometimes, we don’t even realize that we aren’t stretching where we thought we were.
How to do the Quad Stretch:
- Stand on your knees to one side of your partner’s body, facing their hips.
- Secure both feet with your bottom hand.
- Fix their sacrum in place with your top hand.
- Gently bend their knees to take their heels toward their bottom.
- Respect any resistance you feel.
- Stay here for a few breaths before slowly releasing the feet back to the floor.
Benefits: Good for tight hip flexors, knees, low back and hips.
Cautions: For sensitive low backs, be sure the sacrum does not move. For “bad” knees, do not take your partner into a deep knee compression, even if you feel they could go farther – the muscles may be able to handle it, but the joints may not.
This pose lies somewhere between Rabbit Pose and Bow Pose. Both can be great quad stretched but treat the knees differently. Stretching one leg at a time can be gentler than both at the same time.
For Rabbit Pose: Lie on your belly, bend your knees and reach back to place a palm on the top of each foot. Press the feet gently into the palms to activate the quads as your hands guide your feet toward the floor beside your hips.
For Bow Pose: Lie on your belly, bend your knees and reach back to hold your ankles or feet while spreading your toes wide or flexing the feet to protect the knees. Keep your knees and feet in line with your hips as you lift your chest and your thighs, reaching both feet and hands toward the sky. In both poses, keep your pelvis firmly rooted to the floor. If your hips lift, you will move the sensation into the low back and miss the stretch for the hip flexors.