A Quadriceps strain refers to an injury where the fibres in a quadriceps muscles are overstretched.
The Quadriceps muscle group in in the front section of your thigh and, as the name suggests, is made up of four main muscles: The Rectus Femoris and the Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius and the Vastus Lateralis.
Once the fibers of the Quadriceps are overstretched to a certain point, muscle tears occur. These can vary from a minor (Grade 1) strain to a full thickness (Grade 3) muscle tear..
What Causes a Quadriceps Strain?
There are a number of factors which can increase your risk of straining your quadriceps muscles.
The most common include:
- Muscle tightness – this may be after an increase in activity specifically loading the quadriceps (ie kicking)
- Muscle fatigue
- Muscle imbalances
- Incorrect exercise technique
- Inadequate warm up period
- History of quad strain/tear without adequate rehabilitation
How Do I Know If I Have A Quadriceps Strain?
You may have symptoms such as:
- Pain during activities which engage the affected thigh muscle, e.g. sprinting, going up/down stairs, sit to stand, kicking.
- “Pulling pain” or a tugging sensation with stretching of the affected muscle eg heel to bottom.
- Swelling, bruising or thigh tenderness.
- Audible “pop” or snapping sensation at the time of injury, which may indicate a major tear or rupture.
What is the Treatment for a Quadriceps Strain?
Quadriceps strains heal best when treatment has begun as soon as practical following injury. If you have strained your quad playing sport, you must immediately stop the sport and avoid any movement which produces the pain.
As soon as possible, and for 72 hours after injury, use the RICE method:
- Rest Take it easy and only move within your limit of pain.
- Ice As soon as possible, and for 20 minutes every two hours, apply ice or a frozen gel pack wrapped in a damp towel. This helps to control bleeding and pain and reduces secondary tissue damage.
- Compression Firmly bandage the injury. This helps to control swelling.
- Elevation As much as possible, elevate your injury higher than the level of your heart to reduce swelling.