Pulled quads generally happen in runners because of the strength imbalance in the legs. Runners’ hamstrings are used more in the process of running and will get more developed and will be much stronger than the quads. This imbalance causes weakness which can result in a pulled quadriceps.
To treat a pulled quad, you need to use the RICE treatment that most runners are familiar with. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. First of all, you want to try to stay off of it for 24 hours. Apply ice to the affected quad. You don’t need a fancy ice pack to do this – you can put ice into a washcloth and use it. You use only ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. For the first 24 hours, if possible, try to ice every 2-3 hours. This will help keep down the swelling.
Apply a bandage to your quadriceps. You can find quad wraps and elastic bandages at any drugstore or grocery store. Also, to help with the swelling, keep your ankle leg elevated. Taking ibuprofen will also help keep the swelling down.
When you continue running again (slowly), make sure that you are stretching properly before starting out and also, try to avoid during any speed work until the quad is completely healed. If you are still experiencing pain after 2 weeks, you should go see your doctor.
To prevent pulled or strained quads, you should implement leg exercises. The best exercise to do is to do leg extensions on a weight bench. If you don’t have access to a weight bench, they can be done with some things you have around your house. Take a couple of cans and put them into a bag. Put you foot through the bag so that the bag hangs from your ankle. Sit on a couch or chair and slowly straighten out your leg until it is straight out in front of you. This simple exercise will help strengthen your quads.
Also, before and after your runs, you should stretch your quadriceps. A great stretch is one that I’m sure you’ve seen many runners do. Stand where you can hold onto a wall or tree for balance. Grab your foot and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. You will feel this stretch in your quads. Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds. I usually do this about 5 times before and after I run.