The Area Lifters Should Stop Foam Rolling

Do you have pain or stiffness in your quads/thigh during squatting? Does it get worse with deeper squats or heavier weights? Is that area right above your kneecap? (See starred picture below) Have you been foam rolling that area for a while to try to “release” it?

Well, I have news for you. You should NOT be foam rolling that area in search of relief. Contrary to popular belief, quad tightness is most likely not the reason you are feeling tightness in that area.

The amazing part about all this is there’s no quadriceps muscle tissue directly underneath that area. Instead, that is where the quadriceps tendon is located (See picture below).

From what we know about tendons, rest will not improve the function of the tendon and mashing it will not make it feel less tight in the long-term. You should not be compressing that area more, instead you should be loading it gradually to get it stronger. The motion that causes compression to the tendon is a deep squat or any position where you knee is fully bent. Now, I’m not saying that those positions are bad but those are positions that will stress the already sensitive area.

Tendons generally get pissed off when you ask them to do more than they are ready for. Increasing your intensity, volume, range of motion, or frequency too quickly may lead to tendinopathy. That’s just a fancy term for tendon dysfunction or pain. Now if compression is part of the issue, then do you think just doing more of the same will make it feel better? I don’t think so.

Starting off with isometrics like wall sits or Spanish squats is a good way to start gentle loading to the area. It is also normal to feel some discomfort during the exercise and a little bit after. As long as the discomfort settles within the next 24 hours, you should be fine.

I always recommend seeing a good physical therapist when looking for advice for these specific issues but this should be a decent start. JUST STOP FOAM ROLLING THAT AREA.

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