Recovery with Foam Rolling Your Quads

Recovery with Foam Rolling

Quads (sore thighs)

Reasons to consider mobilization (foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.):

Quads (quadriceps; group of muscles on the front of the thigh):

  • Muscle soreness in quads from a recent workout
  • Stiffness or limited motion with squatting
  • Stiffness or limited motion going up or down stairs or during other knee-bending movements
  • Chronic pain above or below the kneecap
  • Chronic lower back pain or frequent lower back muscle spasm
  • Chronic pain or frequent muscle spasm in front of the hip


How to use a foam roller to mobilize the quads:

  • Let’s say that you want to roll your LEFT quad.
  • Start in a kneeling position.  Place the foam roller on the ground, perpendicular to the front of your thigh, then gently begin to lay down with your stomach facing the ground, easing the front of your LEFT thigh on to the foam roller.  Use your RIGHT leg and forearms to support your bodyweight. If rolling just one thigh at a time is too intense for you, begin by rolling both thighs at the same time.
  • Gently roll the meaty portion of your thigh between your hip and knee.  Avoid rolling directly in front of your “front hip bone” and knee cap.
  • When you find a tender spot, be sure to pause and hold for about 10-15 seconds!
  • When you are holding a tender spot, you can further intensify the mobilization and achieve greater mobility by bending and straightening your knee slowly for about 3-5 reps.
  • After you are done foam rolling, take the opportunity to stretch your newly mobilized quads!  To stretch your LEFT quad, find a wall or something stable to hold, then use your LEFT hand to grab your LEFT ankle and pull your heel as close to your butt as you can.  If this is difficult for you, you can try the same stretch in a ground-laying position on your stomach using a stretch-strap around your ankle. You can get a deeper stretch by putting your LEFT knee on a padded surface on the ground, lunging forward with your RIGHT leg, and then follow the same heel-to-butt principle as previously mentioned.



  • In general, mobilizing tissue using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, or another instrument will cause some discomfort; after all, the goal is to mobilize (move or “free-up”) the tissue from any restrictions that might be limiting your body’s movement or range of motion.  However, if you experience too much discomfort or pain, you should stop.
  • In general, you should not attempt to mobilize (foam roll, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.) a recent injury that has occurred within the past 48 hours.



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by Nick April, fitness trainer and mobility coach at Bent On Better

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