Recovery with Foam Rolling Your Quads

FOAM ROLL QUADS (thigh muscle)

Start a new workout routine and deal with painful knots and tight spots in your lower body?

Suffering from knee pain, tight quads, or maybe even tight hip flexors?

Well, you can take some deep breaths and worry no more, my friend!

You’re in a great place to learn how to care for those sore muscles on your upper leg (your quads).

Since 2010 I’ve been working as a personal trainer for athletes of all ages.

In 2016 I opened my own gym called Bent On Better,

where we have helped hundreds upon hundreds of busy adults who may want to see weight loss but who also just want to get in shape, look great, feel great, and have more energy

(and yes, help them relieve tight muscles with foam rolling and even some foam roller stretches).


In this post, you will learn,

the reasons to consider foam rolling (A.K.A. a self-myofascial release technique),

how to use a foam roller to promote better blood flow (especially after a tough workout),

and the benefits of foam rolling your quadricep muscles.




Foam rolling your quads before exercise is one of my favorite ways to temporarily increase range of motion for your quads and the muscle tissue around the knee joint.

All you need is a foam roller; I prefer a dense foam (check out this high-density foam roller) to help provide some direct pressure with just body weight to any specific area that feels tight or sore.


Brief BASIC Anatomy Lesson:

The quadriceps are made up of four muscles (hence the “quad” part of the name):

The rectus femoris is the long, fleshy muscle on the thigh’s top part.

The vastus lateralis is the muscle on the anterior part of the thigh (think the large outer muscle.)

The vastus medialis is the little teardrop looking muscle on the inside part of the thigh.

The vastus intermedius is part of the quad muscle group that is beneath the rectus femoris.


Now that we’ve covered the basics and some anatomy, why don’t we get into the reasons for why you should consider foam rolling.

But one last point should be made before covering the reasons to foam roll your quads… 

I love foam rolling, and there are many benefits, but think of foam rolling as a way to temporarily increase range of motion or temporarily help with muscle activation (keep reading to see the full list of benefits.)

But foam rolling alone will not change your soft tissue or provide cellular level changes.

Those changes happen after foam rolling, with strength training in full ranges of motion and with stretching.

Ok, PSA done.  Rolling on…


Reasons to consider foam roller mobilization:

Quads (quadriceps; a 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 spasms
  • Chronic pain or frequent muscle spasms in front of the hip


Benefits of foam rolling the quadriceps muscles:

  • Increased flexibility: foam rolling the quad muscle group and the connective tissue may help improve flexibility for your entire lower body and for some people may improve IT band issues.
  • Reduced muscle soreness: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (D.O.M.S.) affects a lot of people and can be a big mental challenge (especially for newbies who think they may have hurt themselves after a challenging workout or strength training session). Foam roller exercises for your quads may even help reduce the needed recovery time for sore quad muscles.
  • Improved athletic performance: foam rolling your quads is an effective way to help other muscle groups in your lower body to operate efficiently and reduce the risk of injury, as well!
  • Pain relief: applying as much pressure as you can manage to tight spots can help reduce pain and relieve some muscle tightness (but friends who are new to foam rolling, be weary! Whether you are foam rolling on a rest day or before activity, this may be pretty painful at the start. But as you continue to move and promote healthier blood flow to that painful area, the feeling over time will subside (somewhat, at least).
  • Increased blood flow: better blood flow means better movement and even better healing!


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 onto the foam roller. Use your RIGHT leg and forearms to support your body weight. 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 holding a tender spot, you can further intensify the mobilization and achieve greater mobility by slowly bending and straightening your knee 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, 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 following the same heel-to-butt principle as previously mentioned.



Additional Mobilization Tools:

  • Foam roller
  • Lacrosse ball
  • Tennis ball
  • Massage Ball
  • Trigger point cane
  • …and more



  • 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, you should stop if you experience too much discomfort or pain.
  • 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.
  • This info is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare professional regarding your own condition.



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