There are various hip flexor and quad exercises for strengthening and stretching the lower body. Keeping these muscle groups strong and flexible improves fitness, balance and posture while also decreasing the risk of injuries. The hip flexor and quad muscles of the legs are muscle groups necessary for everyday movements such as standing, walking and climbing stairs. For athletes, toning and strengthening the hip flexor and quad muscles aid in improving endurance, balance and speed.
Hip flexor exercises strengthen the muscles in front of your hip. The hip flexor muscle attaches from the hip and also to the vertebrae in the lower back. Strength training for this muscle is important because it is used daily for standing, walking and other movements that involve the legs. Keeping the hip flexor muscle strong improves balance and posture. The seated leg raise is a simple effective exercise that targets the hip flexor muscle group, also called iliopsoas. To do this exercise, sit on the edge of a bench with your legs extended to the floor. Grasp the edge of the bench with both hands and lean your torso back. Balance your weight on the edge then raise legs by flexing your hips and knees inward while pulling your torso a bit forward for balance. Extend hips and knees outward and lean your upper body back to counter balance.
Quadriceps or quads are your front thigh muscles that strengthen your knees. The quads consist of four muscles: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris. They run along the front of the upper and lower thigh from the hip joint to the knee joint. A simple and effective quadricep exercise is the lunge. To perform this exercise, stand and take one step forward with the right leg by landing on your heel then forefoot. Lower your body by flexing the right leg's knee and hip until your left or rear leg is almost in contact with the floor. Return to the standing position by extending hip and knee of the right leg. Remember to keep your torso upright. Repeat by alternating legs.
Stretching or flexibility exercises for the hip flexors and quadriceps are also important. When the hip flexor muscles are tight, they tend to pull the lower back into an arched position, which can cause back strain. Doing flexibility exercises for the hip flexors and quads strengthens and soothes the muscles and also decreases risks of injuries. The hip flexor standing stretch and the lying side quads stretch are good examples. To do the hip flexor standing stretch, stand facing a bench and place one foot on it. Slowly lunge forward by bending your leg and keeping the torso upright. Straighten the hip of the rear leg by pushing your hips forward and holding the stretch. Repeat with the opposite leg. For the lying side quads stretch, lie on the floor on your right side and support your head with your right hand. Grasp your top left ankle or forefoot from behind and pull it to rear end. Straighten your hip by moving your left knee backward and hold stretch. Repeat with your left side.
Article Written By Rona Aquino
Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.