The quadriceps are a large group of four muscles on the top of the thigh that are heavily called upon to perform almost any athletic activity, from running and cycling to team sports. A quad strain or other injury to the area can seriously interfere with your training program, especially if not rehabbed properly because it can lengthen healing time and increase your risk for re-injury.
While recovery modalities will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury, sports chiropractic care can be a key component of a quad strain rehab program leading to more complete healing and better overall function post-injury.
Whether you have pain, bruising and localized swelling from a hit or other impact to the muscle, or an acute strain that occurred during activity, ice is always the first line of treatment. A cold compress/ice applied to damaged tissues reduces inflammation in the area and helps numb the pain. Ice should be applied off and on for the first 24-48 hours.
After this initial resting/icing phase, it’s important to return regular motion to the quadricep muscles through gentle stretching and use. Otherwise, scar tissue will begin to form around the injury and muscle fibers can shrink. When you go to stretch them at a later date, the now-shortened muscles have a greater risk of re-injury.
A good way to stretch the quads is to stand on the uninjured leg facing a wall, chair, or railing and use the same-side hand for support. Grab the foot on the injured leg from behind and gently pull it back against the hamstring until you feel a slight stretch in the quadriceps.
Don’t overstretch the strain, especially at first. The goal is to maintain length in the muscle while not further damaging tissues. Hold this position for several seconds and then gently release. Repeat throughout the day.
This stretch can also be done lying on the stomach if preferred. If you can’t easily access the foot for some reason, a friend or training partner can gently push the foot inward toward the glutes.
Once the initial swelling has gone down, chiropractic sports massage and soft tissue adjustments can help reduce scar tissue formation in the affected area and keep muscles pliable throughout recovery. It increases blood flow to the area which not only encourages faster healing but helps with pain relief. With the active release technique used by sports chiropractors, we can manually break up adhesions surrounding the injured tissue to assist in full mobility.
Along with guided stretching and soft tissue manipulation, it is important to begin strengthening the injured area as soon as it is ready. Depending on the individual injury, we may recommend strengthening and stability exercises like squats, modified lunges, and stationary cycling to fully rehab quad injuries.
With proper post-injury care and sports chiropractic rehabilitation, your quad strain will heal more quickly and completely.
At Dynamic Sports Medicine, we specialize in helping athletes of all kinds fully recover from injury and safely return to training.