Can I Run With A Strained Quad?
Quad strain can be debilitating for runners. You may have no choice but to stop your running routine because you are simply in too much pain. However, sometimes issues with your quad muscles can cause less pain, which may create confusion about the best way to improve the discomfort and prevent the injury from worsening.
As a general rule, if the pain in your quad muscle is reducing your ability to mobilise or the pain is severe, you should rest to avoid more damage. Seeking professional guidance can also be advantageous. If the strain is at a level that you are still able to walk and run, there are factors to consider before continuing.
Quad muscles are crucial when it comes to running. Keeping them healthy through steps such as physical therapy and prevention methods is important to maintain optimal running ability and help you reach your goals. Read on to learn more about quads and to help answer the question, ‘can I run with a strained quad?’
What Are Your Quad Muscles?
Your thigh consists of three muscle groups, which include the adductors, hamstrings, and quadriceps. The hamstrings and quads work together to give you the ability to straighten and bend your leg. The quadriceps involve four parts called the vastus medialis, the vastus lateralis, the vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. The latter, which is at the front of your thigh, is the muscle that is more frequently injured.
What Causes A Strained Quad?
Quad strains occur when there is a tear or damage to one or more of the muscles in the quadriceps group. This can happen due to a variety of factors. This can include the following:
- A sudden forceful movement, such as jumping or sprinting, which causes excessive stress on the muscle.
- Overuse or repetitive strain. This can happen with activities such as running, cycling, or weightlifting.
- Increased thigh extension and knee flexion due to factors such as increasing your speed suddenly.
- Inadequate warm-up before exercise.
- Tightness and decreased flexibility, especially in quads and hip flexors.
- Muscle fatigue.
- Weak hamstrings.
- A history of thigh injuries.
- Age-related degeneration.
- Certain medical conditions that affect the muscles, such as muscular dystrophy.
Symptoms Of A Strained Quad
The effect of strained quads can differ in discomfort and mobility depending on the severity of the injury. This can range from mild pain with only a small amount of loss in strength to severe pain with a significant loss of strength.
Some symptoms of a strained quad that we often see include:
- A snapping or popping sensation.
- Burning at the top of the thigh region.
It is often advantageous to seek a professional’s assessment and advice because pain similar to quad strain pain may be due to a stress fracture in the femur. This would require a different treatment than a quad strain, so it is important to differentiate between the two.
How To Run With A Strained Quad
For most quad injuries, it can be useful to rest, apply ice, elevate your leg, and provide compression if suitable. It is generally pertinent to seek a thorough assessment from a physical therapist to obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan before starting to run after a strained quad injury.
Our team can create a personalised program and provide manual therapy to help your recovery. This will involve exercises that target your quads and surrounding areas, such as your knees and hips, to increase your strength and flexibility. Some exercises we may prescribe that can help you be able to run after a strained quad may include moves such as wall sits, single-leg and split squats, and glute bridges.
If you can carry out a movement such as hopping on the affected leg without experiencing pain or reduced mobility after resting, you may be able to return to gentle, slow running on flat ground.
Get Back To Running After A Strained Quad
Straining a quad muscle can be inconvenient and disappointing. It is important to take the right steps towards recovery to avoid further damage and decrease the length of time the issue affects you. We see strained quads regularly and are experienced in assessing and treating the issue.
If you are dealing with pain in your thigh and reduced mobility, please book an appointment with one of our friendly team members to find out how we can help you.