Memo to myself: don’t forget to roll, scrub, stretch, or compress my quads so that my quad tendon doesn’t RUPTURE!
This is a heartbreaking story.
On Mother’s Day, I was treated to the gift of two Portland TImbers tickets to the arch rival Seattle Sounders game. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had good seats close to the field. The Timbers missed a penalty kick and that was unfortunate, but the game was far from over and I was excited. Fast forward to the second half, and I was watching our goalie take a standard, run-of-the-mill, no one around him for 20 plus yards goal kick.
He planted with his left foot, kicked the ball with his right foot, screamed in agony, grabbed his right hip with his right hand, and crumpled to the ground.
My husband turned to me and said, “What do you think happened?”
I replied, “Well, taking into consideration the spot he grabbed I will guess the IT band or the quad tendon, especially considering they have played 5 games in 15 days.”
Turns out I was right, but it was far worse than I guessed.
He didn’t just pull his quad, he RUPTURED the quad tendon, which caused a season-ending surgery the following week.
Was this tragedy preventable?
Have you ever had what you thought was hip pain? I’ll bet our goalie had this first, before the quad tendon finally couldn’t take it anymore.
Here’s what the quad looks like… This is a photo of the under layers of 3 of the four muscles:
The underneath three attach from the bottom of the knee to the top of the femur. These 3 were apparently unharmed in the goalie’s injury.
When I watched the goalie clutch his hip as he went down I had a sinking feeling it was that 4th quad- the “rectus femoris” tendon. It attaches to the front of the hip and the tendon is yellow in the photo above. I have had several clients tell me they have “hip pain” but then point to where that quad attaches. I always say, “That isn’t hip pain per se, but instead just a REALLY TIGHT quad.”
That was what ruptured.
I can’t imagine the pain.
So how do you prevent this from happening to you?
Here’s the key: The red part of the muscle is the actual muscle belly – this is the part that has the potential for flexibility or the potential for tightness. You need to target this area. It is safe to say target the middle of the muscle.
How? You roll, you stretch, you cross fiber massage or what I call scrub, or compress and hold the roller on the quad. I am forever “beating on” quads as they get tight fast and drive me bananas.
Most people find that the tightness is especially bad on the outside quad, and refuse to roll it because it is so painful. If you fall in that category, try working on it with the rolling pin from your kitchen.
Do not roll if it causes you horrible pain, as the horrible pain actually makes your body release cortisol (the stress hormone), and the net effect of the exercise might not be beneficial. Chip away at it slowly, maybe using the rolling pin as an entry point.
Here is my client Holly showing us the classic roller position to roll quads…you can go up and down with the “grain”, or across the grain, or just put the roller on a tight spot and stay still. Roll, scrub, compress.
The other half of the exercise would be to then engage the hamstrings which are the antagonists of the quads. You need both: a little release of the the quads, and a little engage of the hamstrings. More on the hamstring part later, as that is it’s own blog.
Rupture? Totally preventable. Totally unnecessary. Such a tragedy.
Thank you for this invaluable tip! I’m going to start rolling on my quads. I’m sure it’ll be painful!
Thank you Susan for writing! Let me know how it goes with your quad rolling. Start it slowly, don’t make it hurt! Chip away like water on a cliff side.