Sky's Out, Thighs Out

The treasured and beloved quads. Oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:

1) You're large and in charge. 2) You lift cool stuff for me. 3) You are supple, mobile, and flexible. Hold up, your quads are supple, mobile, and flexible??? Ah ha! I knew it! Let the art of quad flexibility begin. Below I have listed out three different ways to increase mobility and flexibility in those beloved quads. The first is for static stretching, the second for myofascial release, and lastly a dynamic mobility exercise. Let the thigh life begin. 

THE DEATH STRETCH: Working on Static Holds for Flexibility 

  Kneel with your back to a wall with your right shin up the wall behind you. Place your left foot forward on the ground. Hold an upright torso position, pushing your hips forward. Work diligently to keep your hips square. Your left hip is going to want to hike up. Keep the ankle on the wall straight, not turned in, to work on plantar flexion of the ankle simultaneously (see "Supple Ankles Anyone?" for more on ankle mobility). Hold here for at least one minute and gradually work up to three minutes. 

 

Kneel with your back to a wall with your right shin up the wall behind you. Place your left foot forward on the ground. Hold an upright torso position, pushing your hips forward. Work diligently to keep your hips square. Your left hip is going to want to hike up. Keep the ankle on the wall straight, not turned in, to work on plantar flexion of the ankle simultaneously (see "Supple Ankles Anyone?" for more on ankle mobility). Hold here for at least one minute and gradually work up to three minutes. 

QUAD SMASHING: Barbell Assisted Myofascial Release

  Sit on the ground with a 45# barbell. Focusing on one quad at a time, begin to roll the end of the barbell up and down your quad in a smooth, slow motion. Find the sticky, junky, sweet spots and roll back and forth on them. Try approaching your leg from a straight-on position as well as along the outside and inside. You can easily hit your vastus medialis oblique (VMO), the muscle on the inside of your thigh, closest to your knee and always a sweet spot. You can also turn your leg in so to dig into your illiotibial band (IT band), which runs from your hip down to your knee. My fave is my rectus femoris, which is located up at the top and just ever so slightly off from the center line. You'll know you hit it because it will feel like you're smashing your femur and honestly you are. Spend at least a good three to five minutes on each leg and longer if you have the time. Smashing is a great cool-down post-WOD. This can also be done with a rolling pin if a barbell is not available (wash after use before you make your pie crust).  

 

Sit on the ground with a 45# barbell. Focusing on one quad at a time, begin to roll the end of the barbell up and down your quad in a smooth, slow motion. Find the sticky, junky, sweet spots and roll back and forth on them. Try approaching your leg from a straight-on position as well as along the outside and inside. You can easily hit your vastus medialis oblique (VMO), the muscle on the inside of your thigh, closest to your knee and always a sweet spot. You can also turn your leg in so to dig into your illiotibial band (IT band), which runs from your hip down to your knee. My fave is my rectus femoris, which is located up at the top and just ever so slightly off from the center line. You'll know you hit it because it will feel like you're smashing your femur and honestly you are. Spend at least a good three to five minutes on each leg and longer if you have the time. Smashing is a great cool-down post-WOD. This can also be done with a rolling pin if a barbell is not available (wash after use before you make your pie crust).  

VOODOO FLOSSING: Increasing Mobility and Blood Supply

  This by far my favorite mobility tool and perhaps the one you might be least familiar with. The voodoo band is not only magical but also takes very little time. It is a rubber band used to tack down muscle tissue. Here's how it works: wrap the voodoo band VERY tightly around the area you wish to mobilize (in our case, your quad) and then take that body part through its range of motion (ROM). For example, when working on your quad you will want to do squats, lunges, pedal a stationary bike, or walk up stairs. The science behind it: by squeezing the muscle tight and then forcing ROM, the muscle fibers sheer against one another and break up scar tissue, lactic acid, and any other junk you've got built up in there. Furthermore, when you release the band, the area receives a rush of blood that helps aid recovery and flushes out the junk you broke up. Voodoo wrapping (also known as "flossing" or "tacking") is especially productive pre-WOD but can also be done post-WOD.  PLEASE NOTE!!! -- The voodoo band should NOT be left on for more than two minutes. You are cutting off blood flow to a muscle, cut it off too long and you can damage the muscle. Start with 45-60 sec and work up to two minutes. Listen to your body, if it is too much then BACK OFF. ALSO, some body parts are not meant to be voodooed: head, face, neck, chest, torso, abdomen, back, and over the kneecap. 

 

This by far my favorite mobility tool and perhaps the one you might be least familiar with. The voodoo band is not only magical but also takes very little time. It is a rubber band used to tack down muscle tissue. Here's how it works: wrap the voodoo band VERY tightly around the area you wish to mobilize (in our case, your quad) and then take that body part through its range of motion (ROM). For example, when working on your quad you will want to do squats, lunges, pedal a stationary bike, or walk up stairs. The science behind it: by squeezing the muscle tight and then forcing ROM, the muscle fibers sheer against one another and break up scar tissue, lactic acid, and any other junk you've got built up in there. Furthermore, when you release the band, the area receives a rush of blood that helps aid recovery and flushes out the junk you broke up. Voodoo wrapping (also known as "flossing" or "tacking") is especially productive pre-WOD but can also be done post-WOD. 

PLEASE NOTE!!! -- The voodoo band should NOT be left on for more than two minutes. You are cutting off blood flow to a muscle, cut it off too long and you can damage the muscle. Start with 45-60 sec and work up to two minutes. Listen to your body, if it is too much then BACK OFF. ALSO, some body parts are not meant to be voodooed: head, face, neck, chest, torso, abdomen, back, and over the kneecap. 

THIGH LIFE

As with all of our mobility exercises, make sure you are testing and retesting your ROM every time you mobilize and before switching sides so that you can see and feel what changes are happening. The static MOD stretch is one of many quad stretches in our deck so make sure you look through them all. If you are unfamiliar with voodoo bands and would like more info, Kelly Starrett (the creator of Mobility WOD) has great YouTube videos that can be of help. If you are in need of a voodoo band, Rogue Fitness is one of many places to get one. 

And remember: Thick thighs save lives. BOOM.