Your quadriceps are the muscles that run down the front of your leg from your hip to your knee. They’re a critical part of nearly all athletic activity, and take particular abuse from cyclists and runners. Because they are used for such a variety of motions, a quad injury can be especially debilitating. Luckily, careful stretching and self massage can ease sore muscles and prevent you from overworking your quads.
Develop a stretching routine
Many people’s quads are overly tight because they spend their days sitting behind a desk at work. As a first step toward loose quads, you’ll want to work out the tension. Because you’re potentially undoing years of sitting, this will be a long-term effort. Before you stretch, engage in 10 minutes of light physical activity. This will warm up the muscles and make the stretches safer and more effective. Most quad stretches involve bending your leg at the knee and pulling your foot toward your back. Some people attempt a deeper stretch by bracing their shin against the floor and then lying flat on their back. This should be avoided. Because the floor is so unforgiving, it is easy to overstretch the muscle in this position, which can damage your muscle and lead to injury.
Regularly self-massage your quads
Massage can increase blood flow and aid flexibility. When massaging your quads, don’t skimp on the time. In a best case scenario, set aside a certain portion of each day after your workout. It may be helpful to consider the massage as an actual part of the workout itself, rather than as an additional element to be tacked on. By consistently incorporating effective massage into your routine, you will prevent injuries and be able to work out more frequently. When completing the massage itself, vary the motions used between gliding and tapping to ensure that you fully work the muscle.
Know your surroundings
You’ll want to pay attention to your environment when working out, as external factors can affect your quad flexibility. Cold environments will decrease flexibility and increase the likelihood of pain or injury. Certain sports are also harder on the quads. Obviously, anything that involves the legs is a risk, but sports that require sudden bursts of movement or jumping present a greater danger. It’s also important to listen to your body. Fatigue can be a sign of overly strained muscles, and if you experience any pain in your quads, you should decrease your exercise intensity.
Recognize a problem
Many muscle injuries become worse because athletes continue to push their bodies after they have already been damaged. If the fronts of your quads feel tender and you are experiencing weakness in your legs, take some time off from strenuous activity and increase massage frequency. While the quads can tear in extreme cases, the majority of injuries will present subtler symptoms. You can only avoid more serious issues by being aware of your body and giving it an opportunity to recover.