A thigh strain or quadriceps strain is a tear in one of the four quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh. It is common in sprinting and jumping related sports.
A strain is a tear in the muscle and can range in severity, from a very small tear to a complete rupture.
- Typically you will feel a sudden sharp pain at the front of the thigh.
- You may have some swelling depending on the type and severity of the injury.
- Thigh strains are graded 1 to 3 depending on how bad your injury is.
- A grade 1 is mild and a grade 3 involves a complete or near-complete tear of the muscle.
Quadriceps muscle strains usually occur during activities such as sprinting, jumping or kicking. You are more likely to sustain an injury if;
- You haven’t warmed up sufficiently.
- Have tight or weak quadriceps.
- Poor knee biomechanics or over active hamstrings
The quadriceps muscles consist of the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. Any of the quadriceps muscles can 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 & knee joints. Therefore this makes it more susceptible to injury.
Quadriceps muscle strains usually occur at one of two locations in the muscle:
Musculotendinous junction (MTJ) strains: This is where the muscle joins/becomes a tendon, which then attaches to bone.
Bulls-eye lesion: This is a tear higher up your thigh, in the belly of the thigh muscle, nearer the hip.
After the initial acute stage of the injury has passed, a gradual rehabilitation program consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises should begin.
Thigh strains do have a high rate of re-injury, so it is important to do a thorough, gradual rehabilitation program and continue as part of your normal training to avoid re-injury.
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