Whether the individual is physically active or leads a sedentary lifestyle, he/she is at risk to end up with excessively tight quadriceps that produces imbalanced muscle tension at the hips. In case this condition is ignored, tight quadriceps can affect body mechanics and posture, thus resulting to back pain and increasing the risk for hip and knee injuries.
Close look on the quadriceps muscles
The quadriceps is a group of 4 muscles positioned at the front aspect of the thigh – vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus medialis and Sartorius. These muscles affect the movement of the knee.
The rectus femoris is the biggest muscle that crosses over the hip and works with the iliopsoas muscle that is positioned in the pelvic floor to generate hip flexion. Once the quadriceps are overly worked from athletic activities such as running, jumping or weight training, they become rigid and tight and produce imbalanced tension at the joints. Standing with the knees hyperextended and sitting can also lead to tightness in the quadriceps. Once tight quadriceps is accompanied by weak hamstrings, it can result to an ACL injury.
Tightness of the hip flexor
When one joint in the body is out of its proper alignment, it can result to a domino effect on other joints. Once the hip flexor muscles are too tight, they place force on the pelvis which causes it to tilt in a forward manner which throws the hip in poor arrangement.
A tilt to the anterior pelvis is known to increase the lordotic bend of the lower back which leads to the compression of the vertebra and hyperextension of the knees. The tight hip flexors can result to knee and back pain as well as promote inefficient movement during sports that result to injuries.
The constricted quadriceps can also result to the incorrect alignment of the patella which results to patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). Apart from misuse while playing sports, other aggravating factors such as squatting, prolonged sitting, running and stair climbing are also factors.
PFPS is often instigated by unjust muscular strain at the knee joint which forces the patella to be driven out of track. In frequent circumstances, the rectus femoris and vastus lateralis forces the patella that should be offset by strengthening the vastus medialis and stretching out the tight muscles.
Restoration of balance
Daily stretching of the quadriceps is vital to improve the muscle balance at the knee and hip. You can utilize one arm to balance and hold the ankle of the exterior leg and pull the heel towards the buttocks. The knee should be pointed straight down the floor and fully extend the hip. Hold this stretch for about 30-60 seconds.
Do not forget to strengthen the opposing muscles particularly the hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Muscles that are not properly warmed-up before engaging in sports can put tight quadriceps at risk for injury.