What is Quad Dominance?
The quadriceps are a grouping of 4 muscles (vastus intermedius, the vastus medialis, the vastus lateralis, and the rectus femoris) located in the front side of the thigh between the hip and the knee. They are responsible for knee extension and stabilizing the knee cap, which is vital for walking, running, and descending movements. However, when the back of the leg, the glute muscles, and hamstrings, are not strong enough, we tend to over-rely on the quadriceps to compensate for the muscular imbalance. This movement distortion is called quad dominance. It can lead to overuse injuries, muscle tears, tightness and pain in the knee and the hip and a slight forward tilt in our gait.
How Does This Happen?
Underused glutes and hamstrings and tight hip flexors, along with overtraining/improper training (doing too many squats and/or doing them incorrectly), and bad posture are the biggest culprits. Our story begins at the knee. When it comes to walking and running, think of the knee has a hinge which directs the forward and backward movement of the lower portion of the leg and the foot. However, when the supporting foundation of the hinge, the glutes and the hamstrings, do not activate properly, the majority of the weight gets shifted to the quadriceps (quad dominance) and the knee.
Signs of Quad Dominance
- When you try to engage your glutes, hamstrings and other areas of the back of your leg, you mainly feel it in the front.
- When you perform squatting movements, you tend to step forward and shift weight towards the toes rather than balance through the heel of the foot.
- There is a slight forward tilt to your gait.
- There is tightness and pain in the knee and hip.
How Do We Fix it?
To correct for quad dominance, we would recommend the following:
- Release – Rectus Femoris & Vastis Lateralis 60 sec each
- Activate – External Oblique 2 x 20
- Integrate – 4 Point Hip Extension 2 x 20
- Strengthen – Single leg hip press 2 x 20