Your Personal PT, Rachel Tavel, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), so she knows how to get your body back on track when it’s out of line. In this weekly series, she gives you tips on how to feel better, get stronger, and train smarter.
You use your legs all day long. Whether you’re going up or down stairs, sitting down or getting up from a chair, walking or even trying to stand in place, your quads are active. Throw leg day or your favorite cycling, running, or HIIT workout into the mix, and those large muscles in your legs can feel sore, tired and tight.
The quadriceps are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. They form the muscle bulk at the front of your thighs and are responsible for helping to keep you on your feet. As their name suggests, the quads are made up of four muscles: the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris. Together, this group of muscles helps extend and stabilize the knee as well as flexing and stabilizing the hips. When they’re tight, it can throw your pelvis—and the rest of your body—out of whack.
The quadriceps attach to the front of your pelvis at a point called the anterior superior iliac crest (or ASIS). When tight, they can pull the pelvis down and forward, limiting the pelvis’ ability to rotate the opposite direction. This can lead to trouble, most notably lower back or knee pain.
While increased activity on your feet may lead to tight quads, so can inactivity. Sitting for hours reduces the amount of time you spend lengthening and shortening these muscles. With increased sitting, the quads become static and more resistant to lengthening or stretching.
Get those tight quads under control with these stretching and self-relief techniques. For best results, try incorporating a low inflammatory diet, massage, and heat. Most importantly, don’t forget to get up and move.