Quadricep Strain

The Quadriceps are four muscles that run down the front of the thigh. They run from the hip socket and thighbone and attach into the kneecap via the quadriceps tendon. Their function is to straighten the knee such as when kicking a ball, flexing the hip, and to absorb shock. A quadricep strain occurs when excessive force and/or stretch causes the muscle fibres to tear. The Rectus Femoris is the most commonly injured of the Quadriceps muscles. Find out more about this issue and how we treat it at Harris & Ross


Causes of Injury

It is common amongst sports that involve running and jumping. Footballers and track and field athletes are some of the most frequently affected by this injury due to sprinting, jumping and kicking.

Other factors that may increase the risk of a quadriceps strain due to effect on performance include fatigue, weakness, and muscle imbalance.


Signs and Symptoms

Muscle strains are graded from Grade 1 being a mild tear to Grade 3 being a complete tear.

Sign and symptoms include:

  •  Sudden onset of sharp pain at the front of the thigh
  • May be able to continue activity with a low grade strain; unlikely to be able to continue activity with a high grade strain
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Pain on stretching the quadriceps
  • Loss of strength
  • Pain may result in limping for a few days



Quadriceps strains are predominantly treated conservatively with physiotherapy. They may take six weeks or more to fully recover and return to sport. Bigger Grade 3 tears can require surgical repair.

Physiotherapy treatment includes:

  • Rest Ice Compression Elevation (RICE)
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Maintenance of general fitness (Static bike, upper body swimming)
  • Stretches (Gentle initially)
  • Progressive Strengthening exercise (isometric, concentric, eccentric)
  • Soft tissue mobilisation
  • Functional rehab – squats, step ups, hopping, jumping
  • Plyometrics, kicking
  • Return to running and sport program

Recurrence of Injury

It is important to rehab quadriceps injuries well as previous injury increases the likelihood of re-injury.

To make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our Wilmslow, Manchester, Altrincham or Wigan clinics, and discuss a treatment plan for your quadricep strain call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below