Pulled Quad Muscles: Dealing with Quad Strain

The quadriceps or quad muscles are a group of four powerful muscles located at the front of the thigh. The quad muscles support the movement of the body while upright. Quad muscles work with hip flexors and hamstrings (which are at the back of the thigh) to keep the knee straight and bend the leg.

Reasons for Pulled Muscle In Thigh

Quad injuries are one of the most common sports injuries. Quad pain results from excessive stretching, pulling, or partial or complete tearing of the quad muscles. A quad strain may take a good few weeks to heal properly.

Since the quad muscles are located in the front of your thigh and cross two joints - the hip and the knee, they are prone to injury. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are most likely to have pulled quad muscles.

Symptoms Of Quad Strain 

Quad injuries can range from a grade one or mild strain to a grade three or torn quad.

Early symptoms of a pulled muscle in upper thigh can include - 

  • Swelling in quadriceps
  • Pain in the thigh muscles
  • Fatigue and loss of strength
  • Difficulty  moving the leg

Pulled Quad Muscle Treatment

1. Treating Inflammation and Sore Quads

Swelling and pain immediately after a thigh injury is caused by chemicals released from ruptured tissues. These chemicals open the blood vessels and leak blood and fluid around the injury site.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests the  RICE method for treating pulled muscles in thigh. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. 

  • Rest Your Thighs

During exercise, sudden pain or sensation in the quad muscles can indicate strain. Avoid activities that require the use of leg muscles and rest your body. Seek immediate help if the pain doesn't subside and becomes worse.

  • Apply Ice On Pulled Quad Muscles

Wear an ice wrap or apply a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at least 3-4 times per day on the swollen area. Refrain from using the cold pack directly on the skin to avoid ice burns.

  • Compress The Torn Quad

Compression helps to control swelling at the injury site. Use an elastic bandage or thigh compression sleeve that covers the top portion of the leg. 

  • Elevate The Injured Thigh

Prop the leg up on a pillow while lying down. Elevating the limb allows gravity to help curb the pain and swelling. Keeping the leg at heart level assists in moving fluid away from the injury site.

2. Repairing Pulled Quad Muscles

Once the inflammatory response has subsided, it is time for the torn tissues to heal. During the recovery phase, a rehabilitation program can enhance the healing process.

Healing the pulled muscle in the thigh

Stretching helps relax the muscles and increase blood flow. Apply a moist heat pack before stretching for 15 to 20 minutes to warm up the thigh muscles. Gently stretch the legs and hips for a  few minutes. Do not overdo or exert too much pressure on the muscles. 

You can also include mild strengthening activities such as wall squats or seated leg extensions. These exercises help to return to normal activity and prevent reinjury to the quad muscles. Check with your physical therapist before doing any activities.

5 Best Products for Quad Strain Injury Treatment 

1. Biofreeze Professional Pain-Relief Roll-On

Biofreeze Pain Relief Roll-On works wonders for treating pulled quad muscles. The ideal menthol concentration of the pain-relieving formula stimulates cold receptors that create a cooling sensation on and under the skin, helping to relieve pain. Biofreeze creates the same exact response as ice, only faster.

2. McDavid Rival 7-pad 3/4 Tight with Hard-shell Thigh Guards 

This McDavid Thigh Brace provides coverage at the hips, thighs, tailbone, and knees. It is anatomically contoured to offer low-profile comfort to the sore quad muscles.

 

3. McDavid 475 Adjustable Groin Wrap 

Helps to reduce upper thigh and hamstring pulls. Low-profile, latex-free neoprene design offers compression therapy to the pulled muscle in upper thigh and provides therapeutic heat. The hook and loop closure fits either thigh. 

4. Advanced Orthopaedics Neoprene Thigh Sleeve Support 

This neoprene thigh sleeve is designed for quick pain relief and protection for the injured hamstring and pulled quad muscles. The 4-way stretch nylon fabric provides warmth and controlled compression to the strained muscles.

5. Vive Multi-Purpose Gel Wrap

Used for cold or hot therapy to reduce torn quad pain, the frozen gel pad contours the body and reduces swelling, redness, and inflammation. The adjustable fastener straps ensure a secure, non-slip fit for individuals with an active lifestyle.

 

How long does it take for the torn quad muscle to heal?

Normal muscle strain recovery time is up to six weeks or more. However, most people feel better after a week or two of rest for a mild quad strain or torn quad muscles. 

Once the pain subsides and the legs move without discomfort, you can return to your normal physical activities. The best way to avoid quad pain from returning is to take it slow and not put extreme pressure on the thighs.

It is important to allow the body to heal the muscles properly. For soft tissue injuries like a pulled quad muscle or torn quad, the RICE method works best. Consult your doctor if the pain and swelling have not improved or become unbearable.

 

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