In part one of this blog you learned some common causes of trigger points in rectus femoris, where the trigger points tend to live, and problems they can cause. Today I will teach you how to tame these trigger points and rejuvenate this muscle!
My favorite way to work on these trigger points in the rectus femoris is to lay prone on the floor and place an ALPHA ball at the front of my thigh. If this massage is too intense you can try using a pair of toted original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls instead. I usually start at the top of my thigh (avoid the bikini line where there are blood vessels and ligaments that you don’t want to smash, go beneath it!) and do a stripping technique by rolling the ball up and down about an inch or so.
Once I find a tender trigger point I provide compression by resting on that spot. Then I do pin and stretch by slowly flexing and extending my knee. Finally, I use cross friction by flexing my knee, then moving my lower leg in and out like a windshield wiper. It is good to search several areas along your thigh, and notice if your most tender spots are at the common trigger point areas discussed in part one of this blog. If you massage toward the inner and outer thigh you may find trigger points in two of the other quadriceps muscles which can also contribute to knee pain, the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.
If pain in your knee is an issue for you, you will also want to learn how to treat the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, adductors at the inner thigh, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calf because they can contribute as well. You can search for a certified Yoga Tune Up® instructor for help learning how to treat these muscles.
After you massage RF it is an opportune time to stretch since the muscle will be more relaxed. To stretch RF you hold onto your outer ankle and extend the hip while flexing the knee. Don’t let the knee flare out to the side, but try to keep it in line with your hip. You will need a strap to assist if you can’t reach your ankle. You can do this stretch in prone, sidelying or standing. You will feel the stretch more intensely if you focus on contracting your gluteals and pressing your hips forward, if you do not extend your hip then you are stretching the other three quad muscles but not rectus femoris.
Since my rectus femoris is tight, I feel a stretch and sometimes get mild twinges in my knee when I do prone buttock lifts and bridge poses. If you experience restriction or some knee discomfort during these exercises, then you may have a tight RF too. These exercises are actually a great way to work on your RF flexibility with active contraction of the antagonist muscles.
A simple way to strengthen rectus femoris is to do slow straight leg raises.
Simply lay on your back, bend one knee and place that foot on the floor, keep the other leg straight and very slowly lift the leg until both knees meet, hold for a few seconds then slowly lower your leg. If you do this exercise very slowly (it should take 10-15 seconds to lift, and another 10-15 seconds to lower), you may only be able to do about 5 reps at a time. You also strengthen RF when you do squats, lunges and step ups.
If you massage, stretch and strengthen RF on a regular basis you will likely be rewarded with less pain and stiffness in your knees, and more strength and stability in your legs. So why put it off, get started with your rectus femoris remedy today!