Thigh Strain Rehabilitation Program

Thigh strain rehabilitation

Below is an example of thigh strain or quadriceps rehabilitation programs depending on whether the injury is a grade 1,2 or 3.

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before starting any rehabilitation.


Grade 1 thigh strain rehabilitation

Initial treatment – Day 1

  • Rest and apply cold therapy to the thigh as soon as possible for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Repeat this every 2-3 hours.
  • Do not apply ice directly to the skin or you could get ice burns.
  • Wear a compression support all the time to help reduce swelling.

Stage 2 – Days 2-5

  • If pain-free, start to stretch the quad muscles gently.
  • After 48 hours, sports massage can be applied very gently to start with and see how the injury responds afterwards and the following day.
  • Start to strengthen the muscle again, gently to start with and only if this is completely pain-free.

Stage 3 – Days 6 onwards

  • Continue with stretching, strengthening and sports massage.
  • Return to training when you have no pain on any of the exercises, or day-to-day activities.
  • Start off very gently and gradually increase running speed, and intensity of other activities such as kicking and changing direction.

Grade 2 thigh strain rehabilitation

Immediate treatment – Days 1-4

  • Stop play immediately, don’t attempt to play on.
  • Apply cold therapy straight away, for 15 minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours.
  • Apply a compression bandage.
  • Rest with the leg elevated. Use crutches if necessary

Stage 2 – Days 5-12

  • Return to full weight-bearing if you haven’t already.
  • Start to gently stretch the quad muscles, provided it is comfortable to do so.
  • Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds and repeat three times.
  • Do this 3-5 times a day. Sports massage can be used from day 4 onwards.
  • Once it is comfortable to do so, start gentle strengthening exercises.

Stage 3 – Days 13-21

  • Continue with sports massage and stretching exercises.
  • Gradually increase the intensity of strengthening exercises. Start to introduce activities such as cycling and gentle jogging.
  • Apply heat if the muscle feels stiff – 15 minutes at a time before activity.
  • Return to gentle training once all day-to-day and above exercises are pain-free and you have range of motion equal to the other side.

Grade 3 thigh strain rehabilitation

Immediate treatment – Days 1-7

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Apply cold therapy for 15 minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours for the first 48 hours.
  • Use crutches.
  • Use a compression bandage and rest with the leg elevated.

Stage 2 – Days 8-14

  • Generally with an injury this severe, all treatment should be directed by a sports injury professional and should include stretching exercises, sports massage (after the acute phase has passed).
  • Ultrasound may be used and gentle strengthening exercises can begin for example static or isometric contractions.

Stage 3 – Weeks 3-6:

  • Strengthening exercises are the main feature of this stage of treatment.
  • Increase the difficulty and intensity of exercises as pain allows.
  • Continue with stretching exercises.
  • Continue with sports massage.
  • Wear a thigh support or heat retainer to support the leg and improve blood supply. Use heat before exercises.
This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.

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