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How To Foam Roll Quad Muscles Correctly

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES. PN-L1

how to foam roll quad muscles

There’s always a right and a wrong way to perform any stretch or exercise and learning how to foam roll quad muscles falls under that category.

In this article I will demonstrate how to foam roll your quadriceps to help alleviate any tightness or pain you have in that area.  Additionally, you will learn the make up of the quad muscle and frequently asked questions I receive about quad foam rolling.

How To Foam Roll Quad Muscles

The quadricep muscle is one of my client’s favorite and most hated muscles to foam roll.

I know what you’re thinking, how can something be their favorite and most hated at the same time?!

You know the term, “it hurts so good”?

That applies perfectly here.  A good quad foam roll session can be extremely painful but once your muscles relax and some of the tension is released, it can feel pretty darn good.

Let’s get into the breakdown of the correct way to foam roll quadriceps:

  • Start on your knees and have the foam roller directly in front of your knees.
  • Holding the foam roller in place, start moving your chest towards the ground and go into a classic plank position where your forearms are on the ground.
  • Pop your knees off the ground and the foam roller should be directly above your knees and the only areas touching the ground are your toes and forearms.
  • To start foam rolling your quad muscles, go from the knee all the way to your hip.
  • Once you reach your hip flexor, go in the other direction back down to the top of your knee.
  • That’s 1 rep!
foam roll quads

How Long You Should Foam Roll Quadriceps

As you learned in the previous section, you want to make sure that you roll out the whole quadricep, going from the top of the knee all the way up into the hip flexors.  Once you go in the opposite direction back to your knee, that’s 1 rep.

A proper quad muscle foam roll with last between 30 - 60 sections or 5 - 10 slow reps back and forth.

I will tell you this…

It’s VERY common for your quads to be tight so if you find an area that is more painful than others, feel free to spend extra time on that spot.

You can even foam roll your quads 2 - 3 times a day if you feel like they are very tight.

The Makeup Of The Quad Muscle

Your quadricep is made up of 4 muscles which consist of the:

  • Rectus femoris
  • Vactus lateralis
  • Vactus medialis
  • Vactus intermedius

The 4 muscles in the quad connect at your hip and your knee.  That’s why I’ve mentioned twice that you need to make sure to roll out your quads from the knee to the hip.

Don’t cheat yourself by only going up a few inches both directions.  Full range of motion is where it’s at!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Foam Rolling Good For Your Quads?

Yes foam rolling your quads is good for you for multiple reasons.

First it can help alleviate tightness in the affected area.  It’s very common for our quadriceps to get tight since many of us sit all day long.  That is putting them in a shortened position and can cause pain and tightness.  Foam rolling your quads and stretching them will help that.

Second, a good quad foam can be awesome before and after a workout.

Before a workout it can help prime your muscles and warm them up before you start lifting or doing cardio.  After a workout, foam rolling quadriceps is a good way to wind down from a good exercise session.

Foam rolling is also good for your quads because it can help with injuries and improve flexibility which can help prevent injury in the future.

Why Does It Hurt To Foam Roll Quads?

The two main reasons why it hurts to foam roll your quadriceps is because they tend to get tighter than other muscles due to their constant engagement during the day from exercise, sitting, and walking.

Additionally it’s because certain parts of the quad don’t have a lot of cushion (fat) so you are directly on the muscle.

Lastly, it should be noted that it might be hurting too much because you are putting excess pressure on your quads. Finding a foam roller that has some cushion instead of being so firm can help with pain.

Will Foam Rolling Quads Help With Knee Pain?

Foam rolling is an awesome way to relieve muscle tension and tightness that has the potential to help alleviate knee pain. 

Since the quads connect at the knees, foam rolling and stretching is a good starting point.

Knee pain can be tricky and I remember something a coach told me a long time about find the source of pain.

He said “Look above and below the area that hurts”.

If we look above the knee, we’ve got the quads that we have addressed.

Below the knee is your calf muscle. There are two muscles that connect to your knee.

It would be smart to target your calves with foam rolling as well if you want to try and eliminate your knee pain.

To learn how to foam roll your calves, check out this how to article.

What Other Areas Of The Body Should I Foam Roll?

The main areas of the lower body that you should target for a full foam roll session will be the quads, calves, inner thigh, hamstrings, and glutes.

Spending 30 seconds at each of these points will allow you to hit them all in only a few minutes.

Here's how to foam roll the remaining muscles we haven't discussed yet.

How to foam roll your inner thigh

How to foam roll hamstrings

This one is my favorite - the glute foam roll

How To Foam Roll Quad Muscles Recap

You’ve now got a great understanding of the make up of your quad muscles and how to properly roll it out.

You can foam roll your quad muscles before or after your workout, or throughout the day to help relieve pain and tightness.

As I said in the intro, be ready for a bit of pain when you roll out!  But I guarantee you it will be worth it!