Your “Quads” (quadriceps) are actually a muscle group. They’re not just one muscle, but four muscles, each contributing to the extension of your knee joint and the flexing of your hip. The quad muscles are crucial in running, squatting and jumping.
The quads are anatomically located in the anterior (front) compartment of the thigh. The quad muscle group is made of up of three large muscles: vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the smaller rectus femorus. Vastus lateralis is on the outside of the thigh, medialis on the inside, rectus femoris is on top, and intermedius is in the center hidden below the rectus femoris.
The quadricep muscles originate at the ilium (upper part of your hip bone) and femur (thighbone) and come together in a tendon around your patella (kneecap) and then attach to your tibia (shinbone).
Muscle strain happens when the tiny fibers that make up muscle and/or tendon begin to tear, mostly due to overextension or unnatural movements. These small tears can happen during normal daily activities, during sports, when lifting things, or while performing routine or repetitive tasks. They typically happen as a result of overuse, inadequate rest breaks during intensive training or sporting activities, or through over stretching or excessive muscle contraction.
A sprain, by comparison, is a stretch or tear of a ligament (the connective tissue that joins one bone to another). Sprains typically happen when you land on an outstretched arm, jump and land on the side of your feet, or run on an uneven surface.
Know this. Whether you are a casual runner or a full-on triathlete, you need to stretch. Even though the research seems confusing, the results don’t lie.
Running makes your legs strong, toned, and, often, tight. Every step you take forces your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips to flex and extend over and over to propel you down the road. As they tire, the muscles and tendons can develop imbalances, scar tissue, and tension, slowing you down and increasing the likelihood for common overuse injuries like IT Band syndrome, and Achilles tendonitis. You’ve probably read many difference opinions about stretching before and after your run. There are two things that are pretty plain:
1. Ask a runner who stretches and they’ll tell you it helps them be more flexible, have more endurance, and feel better after the run.