Best Foam Roller Exercises for the Quads

Foam rolling is a common way for many gym-goers to warm-up, cool down, and work on their mobility. One of the areas on the body that tends to get excessively tight are the quads, and there was usually a few reasons for this. A couple common reasons someone may have tight quads is due to sitting down all day, or forgetting to stretch after training.

Rolling the quad involves more than simply moving back and on a roller for a few minutes. To learn more, we contacted Matt Moskowitz, Head of Training at Hell’s Kitchen Wellness, to learn more about his go-to movements for these purposes. Check out the in-depth description and video below for more information.

Note: All motions shown are for informational purposes only. The information in this article and video is not meant to prevent or cure any disease or injury. It’s always a good idea to consult with a medical professional or trainer before attempting any new training methodology. If you experience any sharp pain while foam rolling or exercising, discontinue movements immediately.

Understanding the Quad Rolling Sequence

This foam rolling sequence is focused entirely on hitting multiple areas of the quad, and anterior portion of the leg. Rarely is only one part of the quad tight, such as the vastus medialis, but it’s an accumulation of muscles and tendons that are tight. Below are a few areas of the quad and anterior leg that this foam rolling sequence will cover.

  • Femoris
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Sartorius
  • Iliotibial Band

Some areas may be tighter than others, so it’s important to keep note of excessively tender areas and ease into the various movements in the sequence. It’s always better to ease into an exercise, and not end up creating more pain due to excessive pressure.

Quad Rolling Sequence

Femoris Roll

To begin, the athlete will kneel and place the foam roller right in front of the knees. From there, the athlete will bring their body forward to the floor, and ensure their hips and body are grounded to prevent any form of back pain. Once the roller is under their quads and their body is on the floor, the athlete will begin rolling forwards and backwards to try and hit the femoris.

Femoris Quad Rolling Exercise

The athlete should perform 20-30 strokes up and down the leg, or roll until they feel their quad tightness lessen. If an athlete needs more pressure on their leg, then they can lie off to the side and position on leg on the roller, and one off.

Small Medialis Roll

The next movement will have the athlete place the roller slightly angled out from the knee, as if it’s at 2 o’clock from the kneeling position. Next, the athlete will bring their body to the floor and place weight into the medial side of the quad. Once the athlete has done this, then they’ll angle the hip down to put more weight into the medialis.

Foam Rolling Vastus Medialis

After the athlete has angled their hip out and applied pressure into the medial quad, then they’ll begin rolling forwards and back with a slight angle of the hips. The athlete’s goal should be to perform 20-30 strokes, or 2-3 minutes rolling from just above the knee to the middle of the quad in short controlled movements.

Lateralis Roll

To begin the next movement, the athlete will position the roller parallel to the side of the leg from a kneeling position. After doing so, the athlete will bring their body weight over the roller, so the side of the quad is the main area in contact. It’s important that the athlete eases into this movement because the side of the quad is often on the tighter side of the quad muscles.

Foam Rolling Vastus Lateralis

Once the athletes find their comfortable amount of pressure, then they’ll being to roll up and down the side of the for 20-30 strokes, or 2-3 minutes.

Sartorius Stretch

The next exercise is a stretch that focuses on elongating the sartorius, the long tendinous muscle that runs through and around the quad. For this stretch, the athlete will lie prone with their body flat on the ground, and place a foam roller under the quad about 3-5 inches above the knee.

Sartorius Stretch

Then, the athlete will take a stretching strap, band, or towel and rope it around the ankle or foot. After doing this, the athlete will begin to gently pull towards the back of their head, so the full length of the quad receives a stretch. Hold this stretch for 30-seconds, then switch sides. In addition, if an athlete would like to stretch the inner portion of quad, they can angle the foot inwards, vice versa for the outside.

Tennis Ball Self Massage

The final exercise involves a self massage with a tennis ball. An athlete will begin seated with one leg up in a 90 degree angle. From here, the athlete will grab under the quad and push the muscle up to provide a bigger surface area to make contact with the tennis ball.

Tennis Ball Quad Massage

Taking the tennis ball in the other hand, the athlete will press into the medialis, or tear drop muscle and perform a twisting motion similar to a bottle cap. The athlete will perform this as long as they need, or feel comfortable doing so.