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Thigh Strains (Quadriceps Injuries/ Rectus Femoris)

Quadriceps (Rectus Femoris) Strain

You maybe midway through pre-season training and starting to get into more kicking and running drills? You may want to work on a very important quadricep muscle known as the Rectus Femoris (RF). The quadricep muscle is a group of four muscles situated at the front of the hip/leg. The RF is the most superficial of the group of muscles and has two attachment sites, both of which are above the hip joint.

The exact motion you perform when kicking a ball can cause a RF strain - ie. straightening the knee & bending the hip.

Rectus femoris injuries make up the majority of quadricep injuries in soccer players. The injury occurs with a clear mechanism: acceleration, deceleration or from a kicking activity.


  1. Usually pain around the front of the hip will present following an acute incident (Most likely from one of the above mechanisms).

[endif]--Swelling and/or redness may occur. Painful on stretch (Pulling leg back behind the hip

Pain with kicking or explosive movements. Difficulty weight-bearing.

The closer the strain is to the hip; the longer rehabilitation is.

The longer the strain is, the longer recovery is. cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="604"

Grade 1 Grade 2

Further from hip 10 days-3 weeks 4-8 weeks.

Close to hip 4 weeks 8-12 weeks

This is a rough guideline, and oversimplified.


I’ve outlined a simple exercise program to work on as both preventative and rehabilitative to help train the Rectus Femoris Muscle.

However, due to the complex nature of the muscle, your rehabilitation may look very different – consulting Padstow Physiotherapy physiotherapists who have worked with RF injuries, will individualise & prescribe your appropriate exercises as well as advising you on accurate Return to Sport time frames.

Eccentric Quad kick in proneAttach a theraband to the base of your foot/ankle. Pull the theraband over your head. Start with the leg straight and pull the tension tight on the band. Slowly CONTROL the leg back towards 90 degrees. 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Standing Banded Hip/Knee Lifts

Place a band around both feet. Lift your leg against the resistance band. Swing your arm as if you were running.

Perform 3 sets x 10-15 reps. Hinge your hip forwards if able.

Weighted step ups.

Holding a weight – dumbbell or barbell. If not strong enough perform without weights.

Step up onto a step with either leg and lift the opposite leg with hip bent to 90 degrees.

Alternate between the two legs on each repetition.

3 sets x 10-15 reps.


Brukner P, Connell D. ‘Serious thigh muscle strains’: beware the intramuscular tendon which plays an important role in difficult hamstring and quadriceps muscle strains British Journal of Sports Medicine 2016;50:205-208. Mendiguchia, Jurdan & Alentorn-Geli, Eduard & Idoate, Fernando & Myer, Gregory. (2012). Rectus femoris muscle injuries in football: A clinically relevant review of mechanisms of injury, risk factors and preventive strategies. British journal of sports medicine. 47. 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091250. Morgan C, Konopinski M et al. (2018) Rehabilitation of rectus femoris injuries in kicking athletes. Sport Science and Sports Resources June pg 31v1. ![endif]--

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