Muscle strains occur when the force applied to a muscle exceeds that muscle’s ability to withstand that force.
AFL injury data compiled by John Orchard (ex- Sydney Swans doctor) and Hugh Seward (ex- Geelong doctor) provides us with a valuable insight into quadriceps injuries (Orchard, 2001; Orchard & Seward, 2002):
- Quadriceps strains in footballers are more common in the kicking leg compared to calf or hamstring injuries which occur relatively evenly in both legs.
- It has not been clearly established whether these injuries primarily occur during ball/ground contact or during the back swing before kicking.
- Rectus femoris strain injuries are more common during short kicking when players are running at speed compared to long kicks from a standing start.
- Previous injury to the quadriceps would appear to be a strong risk factor for subsequent injury.
- Quadriceps strains are more common on drier grounds which suggest a ground contact rather than a ball contact mechanism.
- A higher number of quadriceps injuries occur during training compared to matches. This suggests that repeated kicking may place players at risk.
The principles of managing a quadriceps strain are similar to most soft tissue injuries:
- Control of bleeding with RICE (Rest; Ice; Compression & Elevation)
- Gradual introduction of massage after 2-3 days
- Progressive stretching and strengthening program
- Graded return to running and kicking
For help and advice on the management of all soft tissue injuries, be sure to contact the physiotherapy team at Corio Bay Health Group.