Care for Your Quads
Written by Cat Blatner
Our sport demands a lot out of our quadriceps. We are constantly doing some sort of running, jumping or squatting and man do those muscles get worked! Our quadriceps are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. Maintaining length in these muscles is imperative for the health and longevity of surrounding joints: our knees and hips! Let’s take a quick look at the muscles that make up our quadriceps.
We have four quadricep muscles. These are the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius and Vastus Lateralis (as shown in the above image).
In order for our patella to track properly, we must keep all connecting muscles and tendons healthy and strong. If our quads are tight and stuck together, our patella can be pulled in some uncomfortable directions and the shift can cause clicking or discomfort in the knees. In addition, tight muscles can cause lack of movement in the kneecap, not allowing the patella to slide; this will occasionally cause pain and a limited range of motion when we do things such as going into a deep squat.
Here are a few tips to maintain healthy quads and save yourself from some discomfort in your knees and hips!
Get a buddy to smash your muscles
Have your friend take off their shoe and apply some pressure to all angles of your quads. This will take a bit of tough love. Have them work up and down your quads and make sure to take big deep breaths as they do so. If you find an extra tender spot, have your buddy hold pressure over that area as you breath through the experience. Work out those knots!
Here is a great video demo by Kelly Starrett via Mobility WOD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_DLZ35GFrI
Make sure you really like the partner you choose! You want to remain friends after this experience.
If you don’t have a training buddy around to step all over you, never fear! You can mash your own quads and achieve the same release by using a lacrosse ball or foam roller. Simply take your mobility object of choice and place it on the floor. Next, you will lay your tight quads over the foam roller or lacrosse ball, making small passes up and down your quads while applying pressure on the object.
Stretch Stretch Stretch!
Lay on your belly, reach behind you and grab your foot, while trying to get your heel to your butt. Hold this stretch for a good 60- 90 seconds. Practice taking big deep breaths and slowly releasing them. As you hold this stretch, try to pull your heel closer and closer to your butt.
Another great stretch that we often use is the couch stretch. Find a stable surface that you can prop your leg on; try to get your knee close to the base of your stretching spot, in this case, the wall. Your opposite leg should be propped up in front of you with weight on your heel. Get your knee to a 90 degree angle and prop your chest up as high as you can get it. The goal would be to get your heel to your butt. Hold this stretch for at least 90 seconds and again, practice taking big deep breaths as you do so. If you have super tight quads, this will not be comfortable, but in the end it will be worth the discomfort.
These are just a few ways you can mobilize your quads and clean up some sticky muscles. Keep on top of these suggestions especially if this is a common problem area for you! These could help alleviate any discomfort that might be caused by such tightness. This routine works great for me and my tight quads! Give it a try!
Sears, Brett. “What Are the Quadriceps Muscles?” What Are the Quadriceps Muscles? N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.