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  • Writer's pictureKeshia Petersen

Advice in Dealing with a Quadriceps Strain

Updated: May 24, 2019

The Quads muscle is found on the front of the thigh. It runs from your hip to below your knee.

It is made up of 4 muscles that bends the hip and straightens the knee.

A muscle strain occurs when the muscle cannot take the repetitive load or demands being placed on it which results in the muscle tearing.

The most common mechanism is due to a strong muscle contraction or when there is over stretching of the thigh muscle.

A quads muscle strain occurs commonly in rugby, soccer, football and runners.



A muscle strain can be classified as either an acute or chronic injury.

An Acute injury is due to direct trauma to the muscle, most often you are able to link the cause to what you are experiencing. Common in contact sports such as rugby.

Chronic or Overuse Injuries occur over a few months, usually 3- 4 months post acute injury. This is commonly due to constant micro-trauma (small) that’s caused by repetitive loading too soon resulting in the muscle fibres not being able to heal adequately.



There are 3 ways that you could injure your thigh muscle:

- Firstly It could occur due to sudden deceleration during an activity.

- Secondly when there is a quick & strong contraction in the muscle

- Lastly it could occur with a rapid change in direction.



A grade 1 strain – You will feel a twinge in the front of your thigh, this will be associated with some tightness in the muscle often with muscle spasm.

You should expect minimal discomfort with walking and difficulty with running.

Recovery from a grade 1 muscle strain is 3- 4 weeks as the muscles fibers need a chance to regenerate where the tear occured.

A grade 2 strain – you will experience a sharp pain with jumping, kicking and running which would result in you not continuing with play.

There will be difficulty with walking and noticeable swelling and bruising on the front of the thigh where the strain occurred.

With knee straightening you would have pain and you will not be able to bend your knee.

Recovery can take up to 8 weeks to return to your sporting activity. By week 6 you should be participating in some activities related to your sport and improving the strength of the new tissue that is being laid down.

A grade 3 strain – You will experience severe, sudden onset of pain which would result in you being unable to walk.

You will have immediate swelling and bruising that will occur within 24 hours.

When your muscle is activated you would see a noticeable bulge where the tear occurred.

Recovery from a Grade 3 strain takes 12 weeks to heal, resulting in you not being able to participate in your sporting activity.



If you are able to take NSAID’s (Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory) within the first 48 – 72 hours post injury it is advised to do so.

Unfortunately, if a complete tear is detected you will need to see a Dr and there is a possibility for surgery.



THE AIM of physiotherapy is to improve range of movement at the hip and knee to reduce the muscle spasm which would then also minimizes the risk of other injuries.

Treatment would consist of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

REST– it is advised to do so for 3-7 days, this helps with decreasing scar tissue and prevents further injury to the area.

ICE – decreases blood flow to the area and assists with early rebuilding of the muscle.

COMPRESSION– This will help to prevent bruising. Ice and compression should be done for 10 – 15 min every 2 hours.

ELEVATION– needs to be done above the heart and this assists with decreasing the swelling.

REHAB would initial entail to start moving after a quads strain injury, activation of the torn muscle and as the weeks progress to strengthening the quads.

Depending what grade you have been diagnosed with your physiotherapist will advise and guide you through the process as you heal.

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