Muscle injuries are common in soccer players. Quadriceps muscle injuries in particular are uniquely common to soccer players because of their large role in kicking and running. This can also make recovery challenging.
The best way to combat an injury is through prevention. Effective prevention of quad injuries includes an appropriate warmup before playing, flexibility and strength training of quads and hip flexors, trunk control and appropriate kicking mechanics.
A good soccer warmup includes dynamic movements through full ranges of motion. It’s also incorporates movements of muscles needed for playing soccer. A well-studied warm-up program that incorporates this well is the FIFA 11+.
Passing and shooting warmups are also necessary. They should progress from shorter and lighter passes and shots to longer and harder ones.
Most quadriceps injuries occur when the muscles are at their longest and most stretched positions. Strengthening quad muscles and hip flexors should be performed through their full range of motion. If hip flexors muscles are under-trained, quad muscles are forced to perform more work while kicking. This creates greater chance for injury.
Trunk control and kicking mechanics
Good hip and core control are also a necessary part of training. Players should focus on running and kicking without exaggerating the arch of the back. Two other important components of kicking are an appropriate trunk lean and follow through. If done correctly, each of these can decrease the risk of quadriceps injuries.
Here are a few exercises you can do to help warm up your quads:
Reverse Nordic curl
- Start in a kneeling position.
- Make sure your head, torso, hips and knees are all “stacked” – lined up on top of one another.
- Slowly lean back while keeping that “stacked” position.
- Use your quadriceps to pull yourself back up.
- Place your hands at shoulder height against a flat wall.
- Step back until your body is at a 45 degree angle and plant your feet hip-width apart.
- Raise each knee in fast succession. You are essentially sprinting at maximum effort.
- Repeat for sprints of 10-12 seconds each.
Kneeling quad/hip flexor stretch
- Kneel on one foot and the other knee so that you feel the stretch in your quad and hip flexor. If needed, you can hold on to something to keep your balance.
- Push hips forward or backward to regulate the intensity of this stretch.
- Hold stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
For more information, visit the Return to Soccer Program web page or call 952-806-5616 to schedule a soccer evaluation.