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Quadriceps strain involves the tearing of the quadriceps muscles (also known as quads) located at the front of your thighs. The injury commonly occurs during running or kicking sports and can cause pain in the outer thigh area.
The quads are the large muscle group at the front of the thigh, which comprise of the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius. These muscles originate from the pelvis and femur and insert into the shin bone (tibia) in the lower leg.
Your quads play a role in straightening and controlling the knee. They are especially active during kicking, jumping, sprinting, hopping and other similar activities.
When your quads contract during movement, they are stretched and a certain amount of tension in placed on these muscle fibers. When excessive due to high force or too much repetition, movements can lead to quad muscle fiber tears, causing quadriceps strain. Usually the rectus femoris is affected during a quadriceps strain injury.
Quadriceps strains are classified as follows:
Quad strains typically occur from sudden contraction caused by kicking, running, hopping or sprinting activities. The quads are stretched due to the tension and are torn if the force is excessive. Quadriceps strains are common among sportspeople who have to run a lot, such as football players.
Common signs and symptoms of quadriceps strain include:
Treatment often depends on the severity of the injury. If pain doesn’t improve with rest and conservative treatment, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine appropriate treatment. In case of mild to intermediate quad strains, the following conservative treatment methods are recommended:
Once pain resolves, slowly return to activity instead of performing a sudden burst of intense physical activity. Pay attention to any signs of the injury returning such as pain and increased tenderness. If symptoms return, reduce exercise and see a healthcare provider. Adequate stretching of the quads can help reduce your chances of injury.
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