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What is a Quadriceps Strain?

The quadriceps muscles are the muscles on the front of the thigh. They consist of the Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, Vastus intermedius and the Rectus femoris. A strain is a tear in the muscle. These can range in severity, from a very small tear to a complete rupture.

Tears to the quadriceps muscles usually occur following an activity such as sprinting, jumping or kicking, especially if a thorough warm-up hasn't been undertaken. Any of these muscles can strain (or tear) but probably the most common is the Rectus femoris. This is because it is the only one of the four muscles which crosses both the hip and knee joints. This make it more susceptible to injury. The most common site of injury is around the musculotendinous junction (where the muscle becomes tendon), just above the knee.

Injuries that occur following a direct impact to the muscle, such as being hit by a ball or other hard object, are more likely to be contusions and should be treated slightly differently.

What can the athlete do about it?

  • Stop play immediately.
  • Rest with the leg elevated, using a compression bandage.
  • Apply cold therapy immediately.
  • Seek medical attention. It is important you do this if you suspect a grade three strain. If you do not you may be permanently injured or weakened.

What can a sports injury specialist do?

  • Use sports massage techniques to speed up recovery (very important).
  • Use ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
  • Prescribe a rehabilitation programme and monitor it.
  • Operate if needed (rare)Q