Anterior thigh pain in sport is typically due to a quadriceps injury. However, other sources of pain such as a stress fracture in the thigh bone and referred pain from the hip or spine should always be considered.
The quadriceps is a group of muscles along the front of the thigh. It consists of the quadriceps femoris, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and the vastus intermedius.
A pulled or strained quadriceps muscle can be identified by pain in the front of the thigh. A severe tear is abrupt, sudden and results in acute pain during the activity (often sprinting) and may be accompanied by swelling or bruises on the thigh.
Typically, a pulled quad is the result of a lack of gluteal muscle activation, and/or a strength imbalance between the quadriceps and the hamstring group. Lack of flexibility is another contributing factor.
The injury can be graded by clinical examination and imaging, allowing a customised rehabilitation regime to be devised and accurate prediction of likely time to return to sport.·
For immediate treatment, use the R.I.C.E. treatment plan: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
This is the best immediate treatment for all pulls and strains.
Once you are able to use your leg without pain, you can begin a slow jogging program and avoid any sudden accelerations and sprints. Pay attention to signs of pain or increased tenderness, and reduce exercise if any develops. Proper stretching is essential.