Thigh strain

The thigh has four linked muscles at the front which are the quadriceps group and they join up at the knee-cap. These muscles control your legs all the time that you are using them, for example it may be obvious that the muscles work hard whilst running up a hill, but they also work harder when running down a hill as they are controlling the knee movements at speed. They also constantly work helping to keep the body balanced.

Thigh muscle strain

A strain is the thigh muscle being fully torn or partially torn, although muscle strain can also be from overuse and the muscle damage is not usually so severe.

cause of full tear

A complete tear is often from a direct blow as in football during a tackle.

cause of partial tear

Sudden twisting or stopping movements.

cause of overuse

Repetitive activity such as long-distance running or practice sessions of constantly kicking a ball or practicing a shot in racquet sports.


full tear

Immediately after injury the pain can be severe or quite mild, but if mild, the pain usually becomes worse after a few hours and the thigh stiff.

partial tear

Pain is felt instantly after injury, there may be bruising or swelling and it will be tender to the touch. It can appear that the knee is damaged but this is because of swelling spreading down to the knee from the thigh.

overuse strains

Pain starts very slightly and is often more of an ache, but then gradually the pain builds up and you have to stop playing your sport. The injured muscle feels tender to the touch and movement of the leg is painful.


As soon as possible after injury apply ice to the affected area. This will reduce pain and swelling. Use a thin towel to protect the skin from ice burn. It is advisable to support the swollen thigh with a bandage. After 48 hours you should try gently stretching the injured thigh muscles.

A mild strain can heal within two weeks but a severe strain can take up to twelve weeks.


  • While standing on one leg, bend your knee and point your ankle as far up and back as you can comfortably until you feel the stretch in your thigh. hold for a count of ten.
  • Lying on your stomach, reach with you hands to hold your ankles and pull towards you. Hold for ten seconds.


Do not return to your sport too soon as once an injury has happened there is a higher risk of further injury. Build up strength and flexibility gradually and when you start your sport, try not to play too long on the first time or run as far as you would normally.

Always warm up. Make it part of your sport. Warming up brings blood and oxygen to the working parts and lubricates the joints.