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Location: Four muscles are included in the Quadriceps (often referred to as The Quads). They are located at the front of the thigh between the hip and the knee.
Names of muscles in the group:
- the Vastus Medialis;
- the Vastus Lateralis;
- the Vastus Intermedius; and,
- the Rectus Femoris.
Origins and Insertions: The Quadriceps which begin with "Vastus" attach to the front of the tibia (bottom leg bone) and originate at the top of the femur (thigh bone). 2 The Rectus Femoris, however, crosses the hip joint and begins on the pelvis.
Function: Together, the Quadriceps straighten the knee, but the Rectus Femoris flexes the hip because it crosses the hip joint as well as the knee.
Potential Problems: Tight quadriceps can lead to misalignment of the patella. This misalignment causes strain on the knee joint and instability in the entire leg. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is possibly caused by overuse and softening of the knee cartilage. It can also occur as a result of weakness or tightness in the vastus medialis.
Exercises: Leg extensions and leg presses, lunges and squats are all good for the Quadriceps.
Stretches: The most common stretch recommended for the Quadriceps is to either stand, or lie face down, and flex the knee until the foot touches the buttocks (you can hold the heel with your hand). However, if the knee is not completely flexed, Iliopsoas may be stretched instead of the Quadriceps. It is a difficult stretch to complete successfully, particularly if there are any knee problems.
The quadriceps affect the knees, so you may want to read these related articles:
- Joints and Exercise
- The Knee Joint
- Knee Replacement: The Basics
- Three Leg Bones: The femur, the tibia, and the fibula
For articles about other muscles, see:
- The Abdominals
- The Adductors
- The Deltoids
- The Erector Spinae: Spine Muscles
- The Forearm, Elbow, and Wrist
- The Glutes
- The Hip Flexors
- Latissimus Dorsi: The Lats
- The Lower Leg: The Calf and the Shin
- Muscle Cramps and Other Injuries
- Muscles of the Head
- The Muscular System: How it Works
- Opposing Muscles
- Pectoralis Major and Minor: The Pecs
- Taking Care of your Feet
- The Trapezius and the Rhomboids
- The Upper Arm: The Biceps and the Triceps
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.
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For more about the tibia and femur, see Three Leg Bones: The femur, the tibia, and the fibula. ↩