A quad muscle strain can be very debilitating for an athlete. I recently experienced this for myself.
After 13 years of not playing soccer, I finally put the cleats back on and took to the soccer field as a player. I’d been coaching my kids teams for the past 5 years, but hadn’t played on a team since my time playing soccer at Vanguard University. My time and energy had been sucked up into raising four boys, starting a business, renovating our house, and working at our church. I also had been dealing with a back injury since college. I had a herniated disk and a residual SI joint issue which would come on every time I would try to resume running. I know, very ironic that a sports physical therapist had an injury which he regularly helped other people with. (The more ironic thing however, is that this back injury was eventually healed not by my physical therapy work, but instead by someone praying for me! That is a story for another day though.)
So some friends of mine and my wife decided to join a co-ed city soccer league this summer. We are all mainly in our mid to late 30’s, playing against others in their 20’s. The first game went well. I had no injuries and scored 3 goals! Not a bad return to the sport I love. However, on the second game I strained my quad muscle on my first shot of the game. Yes, I did warm up, but probably should have done a better job. I think my quads were already taxed however from helping out at my kids’ elementary school field day for 4 hours earlier that morning. I was at the parachute station where I spent the whole time squatting up and down as I helped lift the parachute up and bring it down to the ground. Regardless of the reason, I was left with a decent quad muscle strain which prevented me from playing the rest of that game. As I write this article It’s been 2 weeks since I pulled it and I was able to play in our game last night. Although not 100%, deciding not to take any shots this game, I was able to complete the game without any incident.
My Quad Muscle Strain Treatment
I thought I’d write about how I took care of my quad muscle strain to give readers an idea of what this road looks like.
- The first 2 days I focused on getting the quad muscle out of the acute stage of healing. I did an ice-heat-ice contrast that first night. I rolled out the quad gently on the foam roll and some other light self soft tissue work.
- The day after the quad muscle strain I applied ultrasound to the injured muscle and continued with my foam roll work.
- By the 3rd day I was riding a stationary bike to get some movement and blood flow to the area, and I began some light quadriceps work. I accomplished this with some basic quad strengthening exercises involving straight leg raises and long arc quads.
- I probably applied ultrasound 3-4 times that first week and focused on foam roll and light stretching and strengthening activity.
- By the time our next game came around, one week after my quad muscle strain, I knew I should probably sit out the game. However my athlete mindset overruled my physical therapist mindset and I played in that game. I did ultrasound before the game, taped it up with kinesiology tape, and wrapped it really good with an ace bandage to keep it warm and supported. I was hobbling around the field a bit, and besides one incident where it pulled again slightly, I did OK. I didn’t take any shots and just tried to use my left foot for longer passes.
- The 2nd week of recovery consisted of riding a stationary bike, foam roll, a little ultrasound, quadriceps strengthening and stretching, and self soft tissue work.
- For last night’s game I did the same pre-game routine of ultrasound, foam roll, kinesiology tape, ace bandage, and a good dynamic warm up. I was able to run much better this game and make some plays. I still decided not to take any shots, which I thinks was a good decision. One thing about recovering from a quad muscle strain, is that it takes a while for the muscle to be able to take the stress required of it at higher level activities.
- I can still feel a “ball” in my quads, from the tear and scar tissue, and will continue to work on that with ultrasound and soft tissue work. I hope to increase my strengthening this week and test some shots on goal by the end of the week.
I hope this personal account of my quad muscle strain will be helpful for some. I believe the important thing is to have a plan and carry it out. Applying principles of muscle tissue healing and return to sport activity on myself has helped me take these from more than just theory, and in into experience.