Sports Massage for Quadriceps Tendinopathy

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Simple sports massage techniques that may be used as part of a rehabilitation program for quadriceps tendonitis.

The following sports massage guide is intended for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any self help treatment.

Before starting any massage treatment the therapist will check for contraindications (if any apply to you, then massage is not allowed) Click for details.

What Equipment is Required?

  • A lubricant is needed to allow the hands to glide smoothly. A number of massage oils are available to buy. A cheap but effective alternative is simple baby oil. Do not use too much oil. Enough to allow for smooth, controlled movement is required but too much will mean a lack of control.
  • A firm, flat surface to lie on in order to apply pressure.

How can Sports Massage Benefit the Rehabilitation of this Injury?

  • Sports massage has two aims. The first applied directly to the tendon itself will help break down adhesions (sticky bits) between the tendon and the tendon sheath and aid healing.
  • The second benefit is by applying massage to the quadriceps muscles to improve the condition and flexibility of the the muscles themselves and so taking some of the strain off the tendon.
  • Sports massage must not be performed during the acute stage of this injury - usually 48 hours after injury. For grade two and three strains, massage may not be suitable for over a week. This is because if the is still bleeding then heat and massage will increase bleeding, not stop it.

Effleurage

Aim - light stroking to warm up the area in preparation for deeper techniques.

  • With the hands stroke lightly but firmly upwards from just above the knee to the top of the thigh. A
  • lways stroke upwards towards the heart as this is the direction of blood flow. The other way can damage veins.
  • Then lightly bring the hands down the outside of the leg keeping them in contact but do not apply pressure.
  • Repeat the whole movement using slow stroking techniques, trying to cover as much of the leg as possible.
  • Repeat this technique for about 5 to 10 minutes, gradually applying deeper pressure on the up strokes.

Petrissage

Aim - kneading movements to manipulate and loosen the muscle fibres more.

  • With the hands apply a firm, kneading technique.
  • Try to pull half the muscle towards you with the fingers of one hand whilst pushing half the muscle away with the thumb of the other hand. Then reverse to manipulate the muscle in the other direction.
  • Work your way up and down the muscle, trying to cover as much of the surface as possible.
  • Apply this technique for around 5 minutes, alternating with light stroking (above) occasionally.

Stripping the Muscle and Circular Frictions.

Aim - to apply sustained pressure to the muscle, ironing out any lumps, bumps and knots.

  • With the thumb of the right hand (for the left leg), apply deep sustained pressure along the full length of the muscle.
  • This technique should be slow and deliberate to 'feel' the muscle underneath.
  • Repeat this 3 to 5 times in a row, alternating with petrissage for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If the therapist comes across any tight, tender knots in the muscle (usually at the point of strain or rupture), these can be worked out with deep circular frictions to the sore spot.
  • Massage should be deep but not so deep that the athlete tightens up with pain.

Cross Frictions to the Tendon.

Aim - to gradually apply firmer frictions to reduce adhesions and aid healing.

  • With the hands stroke lightly but firmly upwards from just above the knee to the top of the thigh.
  • Always stroke upwards towards the heart as this is the direction of blood flow. The other way can damage veins.
  • Then lightly bring the hands down the outside of the leg keeping them in contact but do not apply pressure.
  • Repeat the whole movement using slow stroking techniques, trying to cover as much of the leg as possible.
  • Repeat this technique for about 5 to 10 minutes, gradually applying deeper pressure on the up strokes.

Trigger Points

  • A trigger point is a highly sensitive localized point in the muscle. If the therapist finds any lumps and bumps or particularly sensitive spots then apply deep, sustained pressure to these points using the thumbs. Increase the pressure on the spot until it ranks 7/10 on the pain scale (10 being painful). Hold this pressure until it eases off to 4/10 on the pain scale (usually about 5 seconds).
  • Without easing off with the pressure, increase again until it reaches 7/10 on the pain scale once more. Hold until it eases, repeat once more.
  • This technique is very hard on the thumbs. It is important to keep the thumb slightly bent (flexed) when applying pressure to avoid damaging the joints.

Finishing off

  • The therapist can finish off with more petrissage techniques and then finally effleurage again. The whole process should not last more than half an hour.
  • Massage therapy can be applied every day if it is performed lightly however deeper techniques may result in a days recovery period to allow tissues to 'recover'.
  • For rehabilitation of muscle strains, sports massage is very important in softening / preventing scar tissue forming at the site of injury and re-aligning the new healing fibres in the direction of the muscle fibres. This will help prevent re-injury.
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