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Quadriceps strain

What is a Quadriceps Strain?

What are the Quadricps muscles?

The quadriceps are a group of four muscles at the front of the thigh (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius). These muscles help to straighten the knee and bend the hip. The quadriceps muscles play a fundamental role in activities such as walking, running, jumping and kicking.

What is a Quadriceps strain?

A quadriceps strain occurs when the forces placed upon the muscle are greater than the load that they can withstand. This causes tearing of the muscle and or tendon.

The severity of a quadriceps strain can vary greatly. Symptoms can range from being very mild to severe. The severity of a quadriceps strain in the rated as either grade 1, 2 or 3, with a grade 3 being the most severe.

What causes a quadriceps strain?

A quadriceps strain occurs most commonly when a person is trying to accelerate when running or when kicking. The point at which the strain usually occurs is when the muscle is trying to rapidly contract when it is stretched. When the muscle is stretched into its outer range, it is not as strong and the force required with a sudden contraction may exceed the capacity of the muscle, thereby leading to injury. The individual can be more at risk if the muscle is fatigued, inadequately warmed up, weak, or tight.

What are the symptoms of a quadriceps strain?

Common symptoms of a quadriceps strain include

  • Pain at the front of the thigh
  • Muscle spasm
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Weakness
  • Limited ability to run, kick or accelerate

The grade of the tear will determine the severity of the symptoms. In mild cases, an athlete may continue to play for the rest of game and only feel pain when they have cooled down. With larger tears, the individual may no longer be able to participate in the activity and may even have trouble walking.

How is a quadriceps strain diagnosed?

A quadriceps strain is usually based on a clinical assessment. A physiotherapist is able to assess the strength and function of the muscle in order to confirm the diagnosis and the grade of the tear.


How is a quadriceps strain treated?

Acute Management 0-48 hrs

Initially, the RICE principles should be applied in the first 48-72 hours:
Rest – Rest from activities that cause pain

Ice – Ice the affected area 20 mins every 2 hours

Compress – Use a compression bandage to minimise swelling,

Elevate – Elevate the lower limb to minimise swelling


Gentle exercises can be commenced soon after the injury occurs. Rehabilitation will include a range of manual techniques as well as strengthening, stretches, sport specific drills and a graded return to sport. Strengthening of the muscle is essential to enable and optimal recovery and these exercises are progressed as the muscle heals.

When can I return to activity

  • 01

    Your Physiotherapist will advise you as to when you are safe to return to sport/activity.

  • 02

    You can speed things up by an accurate rehabilitation program. Your Physiotherapist will provide you with exercsies and a management plan.

  • 03

    If you do not have a Physiotherapist download a program below and contact uswith any questions you may have?

How do I make an appointment?

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