Rectus Femoris

Back in high school when I ran the 100m, nearly every time I attempted to run it, I experience pain in my Rectus Femoris when I was at top speed. I ended up straining it slightly, and had to take a couple weeks off, even when I ran in the finals weeks later, I experienced the same pain, in the same region. The pain was about 2/3 way up my leg. I started sprinting again recently in attempt to try out for a university track and field team. I’m getting the exact same pain in the same region, this is nearly 2 years later. I train every muscle in my leg I know of, dumbbell squats, front and back squats, leg extensions, leg curls, stiff-leg dead lifts, hack squats, lunges, I do some plyos as well. I always warm up my legs very well before sprinting, and do a cool-down as well, I static-stretch a couple hours after every workout. Physically I don’t see any imbalance in my legs, nor do I notice any specific weakness in the weight room. Only thing I can think of is some sort of weakness in this area, maybe needs to be more flexible, perhaps warmed up even better, and more than likely, my sprinting technique.

I did a little research on the rectus femoris area. It seems to be a common quadricep injury area for sprinters and kickers. It is not strained or pulled right now. But I can tell, if I really pushed myself in some sprints, I would have no problem straining this area sooner or later. If any of you guys have any information or tips on ridding of this pain, it would be greatly appreciated. I really want to sprint at a college level, but it will be difficult doing so only sprinting every 7-10 days, trying to let this pain subside after every speed day. Thanks in advanced.


there are two possible problems as i see it. either you have scar tissue in the area from a previous injury and thus under strain you experience pain or the problem is neurological and you need to address that in your training. you can deal with both in your training actually but the scar tissue may be an issue that needs to be resolved with therapy i reccomend the ARP (as always) but afterwards you will still need to analyze what you are doing or what you did to cause the injury in the first place.

According to Shirley Sahrman (Diagnosis and treatment of movement impairment syndromes), when you have strained muscle, you must allways seek for weak synergist. (also look at the newest interview with Mike Boyle, at and have a look at articles at his site (check the link at t-nation)

If your psoas major is weak (or too long, or incative etc), which is a major force generator to hip flexion over 90 degree at the hip, then rectus femoris took all of his role and “overwork” and strain. Same thing with hams — if the glutes are weak hams will be usually strained.
Note that is one of posible explanations. Some test you can use can be found of Mike Boyle’s article page at his site.

And do not listen to advices on the net — go and check that!

Ok, I like where you are going with psoas major, this could possibly be a reason, and something I’m willing to try and strengthen, so basically, do leg raises, decline sit-ups, and high knees? What exercises strengthen the psoas major? I like your theory, and it seems it could very well be a weakness in my training? Because it feels, that when I really extend my legs, and really put my sprint into that last gear, is when I start feeling the strain and tightness in my upper quads. If you could elaborate, it’s something I’m willing to try before seeking physical therapy.

Straight leg raise will only worse the problem. The knee must be bent, back straihgt and hip should flexed more than horizontal…
I explained exercise here (post #8), but seriously, go and check that! Hope it helps

Did a little search around the net, and found the article above. Explains how the standard quadriceps stretch really does nothing to stretch the Rectus Femoris, which could easily be my problem.

The pain has completely subsided from my recent speed-work day. I’m going to introduce this stretching technique into my program as well as duxx’ advice to strengthen the hip flexor with his exercise he recommended. I will do these for the next 10-12 days, do some light sprints and see how my legs feel, I’ll go from there.

I’ll keep you guys updated; hopefully this experience will help somebody else with similar problems.

You should also rule out the possibility of a trigger point. That could explain the pain you’re feeling when doing max explosive work. If you’re feeling pain over an specific small area when palpating (doesn’t necessary have to be directly over the place where you’re feeling pain/tightness when running) then it’s likely that you have developed a trigger point.

Although trigger points are rare in the area you’re describing the do exist there. Did a quick google search and found this.

The stretching technique explained in the link you gave will help with trigger points as well.

The main thing to thing about when stretching quadriceps is to net let your pelvis rotate forward as that will take away the stretch from rectus femoris. The trick is to flex the other side of the hip and hence look the pelvis in place.

Ya, good advice, when you rotate the pelvis forward, you eliminate stretching the hip flexors muscles, and only stretch 3 of the 4 quadricep muscles, and the rectus acts as on of those hip flexor muscles not getting stretched. I firmly beleive a tight rectus is my problem, as I have never really isolated it in a stretch before. We will soon found out. Thanks.

Good News. Did some speed work yesterday, really pushed myself on some sprints, legs felt great. My rectus femoris are a little tight today, but overall, 100% improvement, considering I pushed myself even more than I did last speed work day.

Things I changed:
-Concentrated on stretching my rectus femoris everyday
-Used Duxx hip flexor exercise every couple of days
-Increased the length of my warm-up prior to sprinting, more dynamic stretching as well

I’m quite pleased with this improvement, I’ll rest up good again, and slowly decrease the time between speed work days, thanks to the couple of guys that gave me advice.