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Emily’s Football Focus Part 6: Quad Strains

Up to 19% of all muscle injuries sustained in football are injuries to the quadriceps muscle group, the third most common type of muscle injury behind hamstring and groin strains.

A quadriceps muscle strain is an acute tearing of one of these muscles and usually occurs due to a stretch at the same time as a muscle contraction.

What are the quadriceps?

The quadriceps muscle group, more commonly referred to as the “quads”, are made up of four individual muscles - rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis. Together, they act to flex the hip and straighten the knee. Rectus femoris is the most commonly injured because it crosses two joints - the knee and hip.

How does a quad strain occur?

There are generally three mechanisms by which these injuries occur:

  • Sudden deceleration of the leg (kicking a ball)

  • Violent contraction of the muscle group (sprinting)

  • Rapid deceleration of an overstretched muscle (quick changes of direction)

It is therefore important that, as a footballer, you train this muscle group to be resilient against these actions to minimize your risk of injury! You can do this by implementing a strength training programme that will include exercises such as squat variations, lunge variations and more specific exercises such as leg extensions.

What are the symptoms of a quad strain?

A quad muscle strain is usually suspected if any of the above mechanisms occurred prior to the onset of symptoms. Symptoms can include:

  • Sharp pain in the front of the thigh made worse by stretching or contracting the muscle

  • A deficit in strength vs the uninjured side

  • Pain and sometimes a noticeable lump around the injured area of the muscle

The severity of these symptoms will help a Sport Therapist to determine the grade of your muscle strain, ranging from a Grade 1 to a Grade 3 strain.

How do we rehabilitate this injury?

The initial period after the injury should include a combination of relative rest from football and the use of ice, compression and elevation in line with guidelines for soft tissue injuries. Early loading of the muscle is important, where static contractions of the quads in the early stages can be progressed to more challenging exercises. Once the injured quad does not have a strength deficit to the uninjured quad and the muscle allows for good range of movement, a gradual re-introduction to football training and matches can start.

Did you know that alongside SV Sports Therapy, Emily works alongside the academy at Watford Football Club, providing pitch-side first aid, injury assessment and injury rehabilitation to players aged 9-16? She knows her stuff!

Read more here:

Here at SV Sports Therapy, we can assist in the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of quadriceps muscle strains by using a variety of treatment methods and devising a bespoke exercise rehabilitation plan to get you back on the pitch performing at your best.

Give us a call to book in with Emily on 0203 4944343 or email or if you are an existing client, you can also book online here. She would love to serve you!


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