A pain in the quad is, well, a big pain! After all, the Quadriceps muscle group is one of the largest muscle groups in the body. If you have a muscle tear or strain in this group of muscles, it can cause a log of leg pain and be very debilitating.
But you may be surprised that what you think you know about your quad pain is only half the story.
If you feel you have a quadricep injury or quadricep strain, or if you’re experiencing persistent discomfort or chronic pain, learn more about how honing in on quad trigger points can help you avoid aches altogether, including joint pain.
A Deeper Look at Quad Muscles
You may think of your quadriceps as one large muscle in your thigh, but that’s not actually the case. While it does look like one big unit on the front of your leg, you actually have different muscles working together:
- Vastus Lateralis – This muscle is located on the outside of the thigh, and it’s the largest of the group
- Vastus Medialis – This muscle is on the inside of the leg
- Rectus Femoris – This muscle is found in the middle of the thigh
- Vastus Intermedius – This one is located right underneath the rectus femoris in the center of the thigh
- Quadriceps Femoris – This group of muscles is located in the front of the thigh
All but the rectus femoris muscle work in a way that allows them to control only the knee. The rectus femoris, on the other hand, crosses the hip and knee. That means it also controls the knee joint and hip movements.
What Are Quad Trigger Points?
The quad muscles are a hearty bunch and can take a lot of abuse. But that also means quadriceps stretching and working out quadriceps pain can be quite a task.
There are a few different areas in the quad muscles that can be identified as trigger points. Trigger points in the quadriceps are basically knots in quad muscles that cause aches and pain there and elsewhere.
They’re usually easily treatable with effective targeted massage and isolated or active isolated stretches. However, you need to know how to stretch your quads for effective relief.
Examples of Quad Trigger Points
Quad trigger points are often the cause of larger pains in the knees and hips and the thigh itself. It’s also common to experience back pain as a result of tight quads.
A trigger point in the rectus femoris often shows up as deep knee pain. Even though the aches are in the knee, the trigger point is actually in the hip area.
A single-leg stretch, a great stretch for runners, can really hone in on this trigger point.
Another close relative to quad pain is tightness in the IT (illotibial) band. This is a thick band of tissue that runs all the way from the hip to the knee and on the outside part of the thigh. IT Band Syndrome pain is often combined with knee soreness. Aches there are often related to an IT band trigger point in the vastus lateralis.
There really aren’t any stretches that can effectively target this trigger point. You may want to see a physical therapist that can release the knots in the vastus lateralis and ask about foam-rolling techniques.
Getting Started With Quad Trigger Point Therapy
Alleviating quadriceps pain isn’t as simple as doing one rectus femoris stretch. But once you understand where the pain is coming from, you can better relieve it with specific stretches. Have a pulled quad muscle or sore quads? Working with a massage therapist in addition to stretch therapy can speed up the recovery process.
And we can help you do that. Schedule your appointment today!