Runner's Muscles 

 

Quadriceps

The quadriceps are the muscle group that sits on the front of the thigh. As the name suggests there are four muscles in all, Vastus Medialis (inner side of leg), Vastus Intermedius  and Vastus Lateralis (outer side of leg), and the Rectus Femoris. The Quadriceps attaches to the tibia (below the knee) and originate from the top of the femur (thigh bone).

The function of the quads is to extend the knee, which in turn straightens the leg, and the Rectus Femoris also flexes the hip.

The quadriceps are the largest and most powerful muscles group in the body, which makes sense really as they are required to move and support the largest bone in the body, the Femur.

A very important point about the quadriceps muscle in relation to runners is that all four of those powerful muscles attach to the Patella, that tiny knee bone! These muscles, especially the vastus medialis play the role of stabilising the knee joint. Many new runners have trouble initially with their knees or knee pain, because they often have weak quadriceps and the knees are just moving all over the place. Strength work done on the quads can make a big difference to keeping your knees aligned and well supported. In fact one of the main reasons for Patella Femoral Syndrome (runners knee) is weak quadriceps. The best strengthening exercise for the quads are squats and leg presses.

You hear me talking about cross training a lot and this is one of the main reasons I suggest this. Runners use their hamstrings the most, so on non running days it is a great idea to work on other muscle groups. Cycling is ideal, or gym work can help build up strong quadriceps. It is common for the quadriceps to be about 25% stronger than the hamstring group.

Runners don’t often suffer from quadriceps injuries but we can still suffer from pains or strains in the quads. The most common cause of quadriceps injury is contusions; this comes from a direct blow to the thigh and is very common in football, known as a corky or cork thigh.

Runners may  get quadriceps tightness from any work the requires strong, take off movements or strength work, so sprints or beach work or hill climbs in trail running can bring on strains and pain. Any running where you are required to lift the knee a bit higher than normal puts pressure on the quads.

Like any soft tissue pain or injury, first aid (RICE) is the best treatment and stretching.
     

 Grab your foot or ankle and
pull it back, making sure your
knees are together and push
your hips forward

 Sometimes a better effect
can be had by lying on your side.
Pull your leg back and push your
hips forward

You should feel a strong stretch
through the front of your upper leg.
If you are not feeling it, make sure
your body it straight and you are
pushing your hips forward.

     

 

 There are four muscles in there
Try using opposite hand to foot and
pull back, you should feet the stretch
on a different angle

   


 

 
     
 
 

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