Quadriceps Strain

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Have you ever experienced a quadriceps strain (quad strain)? How do you treat it?

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In this post we’ll talk about what a quadriceps strain is and how we would treat it depending on the sport, whether it being with exercises or other modalities.

What is a quadriceps strain and how can it occur?

The quadriceps muscle is a group of four muscles in front go your thigh that connect to your knee just below the kneecap. These muscles straighten the knee to help you kick a ball. Bend your knee to enable you to squat. They move your leg forward as you run. These muscles also help you jump and provide stability during one-leg standing.

A quadriceps strain occurs during activities like sprinting, jumping, hopping, or kicking where too much tension can cause muscle fibres to tear. This can be a result of either excessive force or repetitive motion. Quad strains can be categorized into grades. Grads 1 strain is where there's mild discomfort in the thigh and no loss of strength. Grade 2 is when moderate pain, swelling, and some loss of strength occurs. Grade 3 is a complete rupture of fibres where and individual is in severe pain and unable to walk. The last grade of strain usually requires surgery to repair. 

Some examples of mechanism of injury may be:

  • Sudden deceleration of the leg - like kicking
  • Violent contraction of the quads - like sprinting
  • Quick changes in direction 

Symptoms

Here is a list of symptoms you may have with a quad strain:

  • Pain and swelling in through the thigh 
  • Visible bruising or inflammation 
  • Muscle tenderness 
  • Leg weakness and reduced range of motion
  • Difficulty bending and strengthening the knee 
  • Sharp pain with running, kicking, jumping

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How do you treat a quad strain?

Treatment for quad strains depends on the grade of the injury. Self-care measures or even over-the-counter medications can help, but it might be a good idea to go see your physiotherapist. Other ways to treat quadricep strains may be:

  • Rest
  • Strength exercises and mobility - it could be a good idea to check in with a kinesiologist or personal trainer to make sure you have proper form while performing exercises
  • Ice
  • Compression

How do you prevent or manage quad strains?

There are several ways in which you can prevent or manage quadriceps strains. Look at the following list:

  • Proper warm-up before activity 
  • Take the time to cool down and gently stretch after exercise 
  • Strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors 

Sport specific exercises

Standing Quad Stretch: Start by standing near a chair or wall for support if needed. Stand on your right foot and bend the left leg up behind you. Tuck your pelvis in, pull your shin towards your glutes and make sure your knee is pointing towards the ground. Try not to pull your knee sideways or backwards. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. If you recently injured your quad, it's a good idea to take a couple days to rest before jumping into exercises. It's also a good idea to book in with a physiotherapist because they can help with recommendations and rehab! 

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Step Up with Full Hip Flexion: Stand in front of a step with your hands by your side or on your hips. Step up with your right foot and  have your left foot follow through and up as close to your chest as you can. Then release the left foot back to the ground and step off. Then repeat with the other leg.  

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Lateral lunge: Start with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step out to the side with the right leg, then bend that same knee and push your hips back until your right knee is bent (like you're about to sit into a chair). Then push back up and bring legs back to neutral and repeat with the left side. 

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Banded Knee Extension: Start with a band around your thigh just above the knee, but not right on the knee. Have it tied to something stable in front of you. Start with a bent knee, then slowing extend the knee as much as you can, really trying to straighten it fully. Then bring the knee back to neutral in a bent position and repeat.

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If you need further information on on quadricep strains or have any other concerns, please send us an email at info@yeghip.com or you can go to our website here [CLICK ME]

FAQ

"How long does a strained quad take to heal?" 

Depending on the severity of the injury, it can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to heal. This also depends on the rehab process. 

"How do you know if you strained your quad?" 

Pain in the front of your thigh while running, playing sports, or jumping. There could also be pain with just walking. 

"What do I do if I think I strained my quad?" 

Rest, compression, and ice. Then book in with your physiotherapist! 
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