One minute, you’re Quadzilla out there on your run, gobbling up the pavement. The next, you’re limping along wondering where you went wrong.
That, my friend, is what quad pain can do to you. If you get quad pain running, here is the 411 on what causes it and how to avoid it.
Quads and Hamstrings
Sometimes quad pain is caused because you are too weak -- weak in certain muscles, that is. Muscular imbalances might be the culprit.
If your quads are weak compared to your hamstrings, it can be a recipe for disaster. That can lead to strains or tears in your quads.
Foot imbalances can lead to the disparity between your quads and hamstrings. You may want to consider seeing a doctor to figure out if inserts for your shoes might help your problem.
Improper Running Form
It always comes down to form. If you know you need to work on yours, quads are just one more reason why it’s important to have proper running form.
Having bad form can affect your quads.
How To Avoid or Treat Quad Pain
While you won’t be able to avoid every injury as a runner, you can cut down on them with a few simple steps.
Stretch after a run: Stretching after a run is a good habit to get into, particularly if your muscles feel sore or tight. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes stretching, but just taking 5 minutes can do your body a lot of good.
Ice packs: Try using the good, old-fashioned cure-all runners like to employ for their injuries -- ice packs. It can help with the pain and with any swelling you may encounter.
Run downhill: This may seem like strange advice, but it works. You will probably feel sore at first, but keep with it.
Rest: No hardcore runner wants to take days off, but sometimes you have to. If your quad pain is making you dread your daily runs, take a couple days off and see if that helps.
Try some retro running: Running backwards might make you look a little strange, but it can stretch and help strengthen your quads. Try doing one or two brief sessions a week if you struggle with quad pain.
Focus on more than running: Do some other exercises that will benefit your quads. Go ride your bike, or do some weightlifting that will strengthen your quads.
Slow it down: When you return to running, take it easy for the first few runs. Run slowly and avoid making any sudden stops.
Use Common Sense
Whether you are currently suffering a quad injury or you’ve been injured in the past, many of us are miserable if we are sidelined from the sport we love. The best way to treat injuries is to avoid them in the first place.
Knowing your limits as a runner is a great way to avoid injury. If you’ve been running 10 miles a week, don’t suddenly bump it up to 20.
Ease into more rigorous training gradually, and listen to your body. If something feels off, don’t ignore it.