Strains to the quadriceps muscle are relatively common in Australian Rules football.

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:

  1. Control of bleeding with RICE (Rest; Ice; Compression & Elevation)
  2. Gradual introduction of massage after 2-3 days
  3. Progressive stretching and strengthening program
  4. 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.