A few blogs back, I discussed the importance of strong and switched on glutes for efficient running for endurance athletes.
In this blog I will discuss a very common muscle imbalance that occurs with many endurance athletes. However it is also seen amongst strength based athletes and people prone lots of sitting.
Tight and over active Quads- In particular, a tight Rectis Femoris
About the Muscle.
The Rectis Femoris muscle is in the front of the thigh and is one of the Quadriceps. It runs from the front edge of the pelvis down to the front of the shin, just below the knee.
When this muscle is tight and shortened by trigger points (areas where fibers are abnormally shortened) it tends to pull the pelvis forward, creating an anterior (forward) rotation of the pelvis. It also forces the knees back into hyper-extension, causing strain on the cruciate ligaments of the knee as well as other muscles and connective tissues.
Unfortunately, because the Rectis Femoris crosses two joints (hip and knee), it is rarely stretched out fully.
Another point, is sometimes a tight Rectis Femoris can be misdiagnosed as tight Hip Flexors.
How do you know if this muscle are tight?
Here is a simple partnered test you can do:
You will lie face down in a relaxed state. A partner will stand or kneel next to the leg to be tested. One hand should be on the lower back, the other holding the leg at the heel.Passively flex the knee. The heel should touch the buttocks. Test both sides for comparison.
A tight Rectis Femoris is when the heel cannot touch the butt, the hip of the tested side raises up and you may feel a discomfort in the back of your legs.
Here are 3 really effective stretching and mobility exercises to treat the tight muscle.
Ideally include as part of your warm up and cool down or on your recovery days.
Standing Quad Stretch
In an upright position bend the left knee behind. Wrap both hands around the left foot. Assist by pulling the left heel up towards the buttocks while pulling shoulders backwards and pushing hips forward by tucking in your bum. You should feel a deep stretch in the quad.
Hold for at least 3- 5 minutes
The Couch Stretch- Intermediate level
Start on all fours with your feet against the wall. Raise one leg so the shin and foot lie flat against the wall, then step the other leg forward with foot beneath you. Gently push the hip with the leg on the wall forward and relax your back, opening up the entire anterior muscle chain.
Hold for 1-2 minutes
Foam Rolling the Quads
Start by placing the quads on the roller, supporting your body weight with arms. Roll on the quads, travelling right down to just above your knee joint and back up just below the hip. Continue back and forth for 2-3 mins on each leg. For really tight spots pause for a few seconds to release the trigger point.