How a Quad Strain Kept Out a Former Finals MVP For A Year!


There has been plenty of chatter surrounding knee injuries and the NBA of late. Indiana Pacer, Victor Oladipo just went down for the season with a gruesome torn quadriceps injury. (Check out our previous blog covering quadriceps tendon tears here!)

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is garnering MVP votes after not playing almost all of last year with a quad tendon strain. He now has a new home, is playing amazing basketball, and his team is off to the best start in the franchise history.

There is still one question that many are asking. How did a quad strain keep an elite athlete off the court for almost an entire year?! We will take a deeper look into this injury and how it affected his former team, the San Antonio Spurs, last year.

Quad Tendinopathy describes the breakdown of the quadriceps tendon. Breakdown of the tendon means that the tendon isn’t as strong as it would be under normal circumstances. This breakdown typically follows tendinitis, which is characterized as inflammation of the tendon and the adjacent areas. Swelling and dysfunction in this area are never a good thing, and the combo of the both usually leads to pain and poor performance! The previously mentioned symptoms can cause tendon ruptures, like we saw with Oladipo’s gruesome injury!

If you asked most medical specialists, they would say Kawhi should have been able to return last year. Typically, injuries of this magnitude require 6 to 8 weeks of rehab for full recovery.  Since 2005, the Spurs have been known for having one of the best medical staffs in the NBA. However, last year, there was major dysfunction surrounding the team and Kawhi’s injury. With Kawhi’s style of play (stop-and-go, high flying, defensive stopper), having a functional quad is necessary to perform at All-NBA Team levels.


Generally, treatment for an injury such as the one Kawhi suffered consists of ice in the acute phase of injury (earliest stage), manual therapy (to reduce muscle tension), progressive movement of the joint, strength training, and progressive return-to-sport activities. In the NBA, this will/should take place every day and/or multiple times per day. At Fit Club, we work with clients two times a week for 6 weeks to rehab a quad tendinopathy injury.

One thing we know for certain is that Kawhi is back and playing at an elite level! The time away from the court didn’t seem to take away his ability to impact the game on both sides of the floor! If you have any questions about knee pain or getting back to playing your sport pain free, give our team a call today for a free phone consultation!

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