It is important to note that strained quadriceps can be considered as a minor injury in the fibers of the thigh muscles or a major case involving complete rupture of the muscles.
The length of the recovery period usually depends on the severity of the injury sustained, thus if serious damage was sustained to the quadriceps, the healing process will surely take some time to heal. Nevertheless, a minor or severe strained quadriceps can recover quickly if the proper measures are carried out particularly the RICE method. If you want to learn more about the RICE method, read here.
Steps in managing a strained quadriceps
- The strained quadriceps should be allowed to rest for the initial 24 hours after the injury was sustained. Applying pressure or tension on the torn muscle during the first days can aggravate the damage. Crutches should be used if the doctor recommends them.
- You have to apply an ice pack wrapped in towel or cloth on the site of injury right away. Hold it in place for 10-20 minutes. During the initial day of recovery, you have to apply an ice pack once at each hour. As for the next 2-3 days, apply ice only once every 3-4 hours. Always remember not to apply an ice pack directly on the skin without a barrier.
- The thigh should be wrapped using a compression bandage to minimize the swelling. It is best to consult a doctor regarding how long to continue wearing the bandage.
- The affected leg should be elevated higher than the level of the heart during the first day. This will help prevent further swelling.
- Provide the individual with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the swelling as well as the pain. The individual should continue to rest the quadriceps while taking these medications since they mask the symptoms of the injury but will not repair the muscle.
- The individual should engage in stretching and strengthening regimens recommended by a physical therapist. The individual should stretch until a sensation is felt but not pain. In case exercise causes pain, stop the activity.
- A heat pack can be applied to the strained quadriceps before exercising or stretching to warm up the muscle and increase its flexibility. Take note that this will make the stretches even more effective, thus the recovery will be faster. Additionally, it also lessens the chance for re-injury.
- The individual should wait before returning to normal activities until there is no pain anymore. If walking causes pain, smaller steps should be taken until there is no pain. The individual should avoid movement or exercise that hurts the thigh. Always bear in mind that pain is an indication that you are applying pressure to the strained quadriceps which will slow down the healing process.
- Once the pain is gone, the individual can resume running or playing sports. The return to activity must be gradual and done in a careful manner. Slowly increase the intensity and duration of the workouts as the strength of the leg returns.