The muscles of your thigh are actually made up of three muscles: hamstrings in the back, adductor muscles along the insides, and quadriceps, which are the large muscles on the front of your legs. Hamstrings and quadriceps bend and extend the legs, while adductors work to pull the thighs together. Quadriceps and hamstrings are the muscles that are most vulnerable to strains because they cross both the hip and knee joints and are used for high-speed activities, such as running, football, basketball and soccer.
Symptoms of a strain
Thigh muscle pain symptoms can be mild to extreme based on the level of injury. A sharp pain or pulling may be felt in the area of the pull, strain or tear. This can radiate along the length of your quadriceps muscle up to your hip and pelvis, and/or down through your knee. Frequently a strain can involve a popping or snapping sensation with sudden and sever pain. Bruising may also be visible.
Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important to prevent a quadriceps strain from becoming chronic. R-I-C-E is recommended to treat the pain and swelling of fresh injuries, chronic pain, and after any re-injury. R-I-C-E stands for:
- Rest – Take a break from the activity that caused the strain
- Ice – Do not apply directly to the skin, use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time
- Compression – To prevent additional swelling, lightly wrap the injured area
- Elevation – To minimize swelling, raise your leg up higher than your heart
It is always better to prevent injuries rather than try to fix them after they happen. The following precautions can help:
- Regular exercise and conditioning
- Warming up before exercise to help get blood flowing and give the body time to adjust to the demands of exercise
- Stretching slowly and gradually after exercise, holding each stretch to give the muscle time to respond and lengthen
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