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Published on: 16-Apr-2022

For all sports and fitness enthusiasts out there times can be tough in some instances because after all, our bodies are truly human. We all love to take part passionately in whatever sporting activity that is dear to us and that could stem from something that requires less energy like golf to high intensity and gut-wrenching games like basketball, football, and hockey. Regardless of what sport you play your body is constantly moving and some parts and muscles might be targeted more than others.

Take an example of how cycling mostly affects your quads, Achilles tendon, and your calves. Cricket on the other hand might prove very effective on your arms and shoulders mainly due to the application of excessive force when bowling or batman. One of the most common injuries in sports where running is required is the Rectus Femoris muscle. Sporting activities such as basketball, football, tennis and hockey, etc that require the athletes to run with high intensity for regular intervals might encounter a tear or strain in their Rectus Femoris. In this piece, we will explain how you can recover from a Rectus Femoris quad injury!

Anatomy of the Rectus Femoris:

In order for you to work on your muscle recovery, you will need to learn and study the muscle beforehand and this is why discussing the anatomy of the Rectus Femoris is extremely important. A Rectus Femoris injury is very common among athletes, especially football and basketball players because these two sports apply immense pressure to the thighs/quads. As a result, when you have overplayed, the muscle grows too tired and hence the tear occurs.

Overall the quad has 4 main muscle compartments that are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. The Rectus femoris is extremely important because it generates power for acceleration and it is essential for deceleration as well. All explosiveness such as a dashing with a burst of speed also stems from the same muscle. Last but not least it affects the ability for football players to take a shot. The muscle is unique in nature because it is naturally very long which makes recovery complicated, stemming from the hip flexor all the way to your knee.

Analysis of the injury:

After contracting the injury you need to consider the symptoms and look at how you are feeling. Grade 1 tears are merciful as you will have minimal pain and the recovery time will be short as well. However, Grade 2 tears might be complicated as there could be two outcomes depending on the severity of the tear. The first outcome would result in you being out of activity for 2 to 3 months with a reduction in pain over time however in many cases you might experience pain so staggering that lifting your leg could prove to be painful and which could eventually resort to you using a walker.

Then comes grade 3 which could possibly require surgery. You will have to identify how severe your pain is. If it is very minimal and you are still able to take part in physical activity then it is most likely a grade 1 tear where the general guidance is 10 to 14 days. If the pain is great and you cannot risk sprinting at all then it is usually a grade 2 tear. Getting an MRI scan is preferred as you will know the exact location of the injury as well as the degree of the tear.

Identifying injuries is hard and often the damage might be to your knees or your bones so in that case chiropractic treatment might be required, which is why an MRI can help you greatly. Following the P.R.I.C.E protocol after the injury is considered essential where you will have to protect, rest, ice, compress and evaluate before attempting to return back to gameplay.  

The Recovery process:

This is the hard part because the Rectus Femoris recovery usually does take time which is why you will have to be extremely patient and because the journey could be tiring. Grade 1 years are exceptions of course as 10 days of rest is enough after which you can come back to play but with low intensity which you will increase by time. The worst part about the tear is re-injury concern, considering that the occurrence is high, which is why you have to be careful.

After contracting the injury, the first step is to rest it for an appropriate time frame to the point where you can firmly walk again without any apprehension or difficulty. Now begins the real work since you will have to increase intensity and keep adding greater resistance to your exercises throughout rehab.

This can be referred to as the sub acute stage where you begin to add range of motion back to the muscle by doing passive and light stretching. A great drill is to lie down on a flat surface and slowly lift your leg upwards like a leg extension exercise. Gradually increase the reps and speed after a few days.

Move towards a resistance band and perform leg extensions like one does at the gym with the actual leg extension machine. Keep the intensity and resistance low at the start and increase the passage of time as your muscle keeps returning back to normal. Keep trying different variations of exercises with the resistance bands for the next 20 to 25 days.

Within the entire time frame, you will have to focus well on your diet as well as your sleeping time as both aspects play an important factor. After this stage where you have added more resistance and range of motion, you will move towards strengthening the muscle which can be done by putting on weight. Weighted leg press, leg extensions, squats, and eccentric lunges work perfectly. Make sure to start with a lightweight and increase the intensity. Remember to listen to your body, that is key because once you are feeling confident, you can start jogging and sprinting up to 60%. 

Final tips:

Our bodies work in different ways so it is always hard to classify how much time it will take but you will have to be patient. After a month and a half of rehab, you can return back to sprinting up to 90%. Start engaging in your sports again but keep a very light intensity. For football players, do not attempt to work at 100% power. With time your muscle will activate itself and be good as ever.


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The post How to recover from a Rectus Femoris Injury appeared first on Sports Medicine Weekly.