The Vastus Lateralis is an important muscle group in the thigh that helps with knee extension and hip stability. Unfortunately, it’s also a common source of pain and tightness, leading to injury if not properly addressed. Fortunately, there are stretches you can do to help alleviate tension in this area and improve your range of motion.
So, let’s learn how to do a Vastus Lateralis stretch the right way!
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What is the Vastus Lateralis Muscle?
The Vastus Lateralis muscle is one of the powerful engines of the body, located on the lateral side of the thigh. As part of the much larger quadriceps muscle group, which includes rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis, this muscle provides strength, stability, and support while helping to ensure a full range of motion in both legs.
The quadriceps muscles are some of the most important muscles used for everyday activities – from running upstairs to squatting down – it’s no wonder that bodybuilders devote significant time to strengthening them!
So whether you’re an advanced gymnast or an avid fitness enthusiast, make sure your daily routine includes exercises for your Vastus Lateralis muscle so that you can blast off into your next workout with power and vigor.
Why Does The Vastus Lateralis Muscle Hurt?
Your quadriceps, specifically the vastus lateralis muscle, can become strained when subjected to a sudden force on your thigh. When that happens, it can be extremely painful and, sometimes, even disrupt your walking ability.
Typically, you may experience swelling of the muscle, along with developing bruising on your thigh. Knowing how to care for a strained quadriceps properly is important, as not doing so may result in more long-term issues or even further injury.
In addition, understanding why it hurts and how best to treat it can ensure that you can get back on track quickly and safely.
3 Ways to Stretch & Release a Tight Vastus Lateralis
Fortunately, there are several simple stretches that you can do to help reduce tension and improve the flexibility of your Vastus Lateralis muscle. Here are three key stretches to get you started:
- Knee to Wall Leg Out to Side
- Knee and Block to Wall
- Reclining Hero’s Pose
Knee to Wall Leg Out to Side
- Begin in an upright lunge, keeping your hips squared and pointed toward the front of the room.
- Next, bend your knee and place the top of your foot on a wall or sturdy surface.
- Gradually straighten out from there as you gently move away from it, tucking your pelvis under as if doing a twerk dance – all while being mindful to keep contact with both walls and feet.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on how much pain or stamina you can handle!
Knee and Block to Wall
- For this exercise, you will again follow the instructions from above. But now, put a yoga block at the end of your mat and against the wall.
- Position your knee in front of it and keep your shoulders straight, so they lightly touch the wall behind you.
- With each exhale, try to bring yourself closer until there is enough pressure on both blocks for support.
Reclining Hero’s Pose
As this posture can be quite strenuous for the lower back, it is highly suggested that you practice cautiously.
- Start by kneeling with your legs slightly wider than hip distance apart.
- Then, sit so that both of your sits bones are touching the floor while you extend your feet away from each other.
- Use your hands to draw the calves out until they’re comfortable, and then gradually recline into this space between them as best as possible without putting strain on the lower back area.
- Remain in this pose for one minute before progressing further!
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Stretching the Vastus Lateralis
It’s important to be mindful and aware of your body while exercising, stretching, or otherwise. The following are some common mistakes that people make when it comes to stretching:
- Neglecting to Warm-Up: Always warm up your muscles before attempting a more brutal stretch like the ones mentioned in this article. This helps to reduce the chances of injuring yourself and increases the likelihood of successful stretching.
- Ignoring Pain: If you feel pain or discomfort while stretching, stop immediately and be gentle with your body.
- Rushing Through: Rushing through a stretch can not only lead to injuries but also make it less effective in releasing tension from the muscle.
- Not Breathing Properly: By taking your time and focusing on your breathing, you can ensure that your muscles are in a relaxed state to experience maximum benefits from stretching.
- Not Consulting a Professional: If you have chronic pain or feel like something doesn’t seem right with your body, then it is best to consult a medical professional.
Learning how to stretch and properly care for your Vastus Lateralis muscle can help reduce tension and improve flexibility. Remembering safety when stretching, focusing on your breathing, and avoiding common mistakes is important. Taking the time to understand why it hurts and how best to treat it can ensure that you can get back on track to living a comfortable and healthy life.
If you have any lingering questions, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or physical therapist for guidance. With the right care and attention, you can give yourself the gift of flexibility!