Rectus Femoris Strain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Exercises

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Rectus Femoris StrainIn this day in age, exercise has become a part of everyday life. If you are reading this, there’s a good chance that you are doing something for your physical health on a regular basis. Maybe it’s hitting the gym a few times a week. Maybe you’re training for a marathon or weightlifting competition. But with exercise comes the possibility of strain and injury, like a rectus femoris strain.

Strains and injuries can carry a little bit of confusion. The truth of the matter is that your body is filled with huge amounts of muscles, joints, and tendons, so when something goes wrong, it can often be hard to figure out what is actually injured.

The rectus femoris is part of a group of muscles in the thigh that helps you flex your hip, extend the knee, and lift the thigh. But, what happens when it gets injured?

We’re going to examine rectus femoris strain. From rectus femoris strain causes and rectus femoris strain symptoms to rectus femoris strain treatment and rectus femoris exercises, by the time we are done, you will hopefully be able to recognize the injury and know how to rehab it.

Main Causes of Rectus Femoris Strain

Unfortunately, the main causes of rectus femoris strain are fairly common. This particular strain is usually caused by a forceful movement. So, if you go into a quick sprint of movement where your hip and thigh muscles are engaged, it has the potential for rectus femoris strain. Sports like sprinting, football, and soccer can easily cause a rectus femoris strain due to.

Sports like sprinting, football, and soccer can easily cause a rectus femoris strain due to the practice of each, with very quick sprint starts. In the case of football or soccer, you add on the pressure of a kick to that muscle area.

Overstretching can also lead rectus femoris strain, especially if the overextension occurs regularly over a long period of time, as it can gradually weaken the tendons and muscles. Interestingly enough, wearing high heels can sometimes result in the strain because of the awkward position the shoes put your feet in.

This, in turn, alters the way your thigh muscles move and function within the leg. But how do you know if you’ve got a rectus femoris strain or something else? You take a look at your symptoms.

Rectus Femoris Strain Symptoms

So you think that you may have a rectus femoris strain—what symptoms should you be on the lookout for in order to make a positive identification? The main symptom is pain. This type of strain will usually cause pain in the mid-thigh area and pain in the anterior of the hip.

There may be some swelling and bruising in the mid-thigh area depending on the severity of the strain. Once you are sure that you are suffering from this type of strain (possibly corroborated by a doctor’s diagnosis), you can move on to treatment.

Rectus Femoris Strain Treatment & Rehabilitation

The treatment and rehabilitation of rectus femoris strains closely resemble that of many other muscles strains and injuries. Some of the more common methods of treatment are:

The RICE Method

If you’ve ever pulled a muscle, you are probably familiar with the RICE method of treating the injury. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You are to rest the muscle and avoid or limit as much as possible any movement that uses that muscle.

Ice the area with an ice pack (don’t place the ice pack directly on the skin; wrap it in a towel). Keep the ice on area 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours. Compression is when you take a compression or elastic bandage or wrap around the sore muscle area to help reduce swelling.

Finally, elevate the muscle above or as close as you can get it (rather hard with your hip). Following these steps can help reduce the swelling of the rectus femoris strain and help the healing to begin.


Many over-the-counter medications can help you with a rectus femoris strain, especially anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. Acetaminophen may also be able to help you with the pain and swelling.

Pressure Treatment

This type of treatment can help loosen up the strain and restore motion and movement back to your hip and thigh. Start by sitting on a chair and placing your elbow on the leg a few inches above your knee cap.

Gently press into the muscle at various points, beginning at the knee and up to the pelvis. You will find trigger points near the hip that hurt when pressed (though not all pain points are also trigger points).

Apply pressure to these areas until the pain subsides. You may find it easier to have a partner put the pressure on that area, or to use an instrument like a tennis ball. After using pressure treatment, you should stretch.

In addition to these methods, there are some exercises and stretches that can help prevent rectus femoris strain.

Best Exercises for Rectus Femoris Strain

There are a number of exercises and stretches that can help prevent rectus femoris strains. Those can include:


Squats help build up the muscles around the hip area, and strengthening the muscles in that group can help prevent rectus femoris strains. Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Keep your back straight and bend at the hips and waist as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, stop and then return to the starting position. You can add weights for more resistance.


Stand in front of a bench or step with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step up with one foot and follow it up by stepping up with the other foot. Step back down with the second foot and then with the first foot.

Specialized Leg Exercises

Using leg press and leg extension machines can also help build up those muscles and prevent a painful strain at a later point.The rectus femoris is part of a group of muscles in the thigh that helps you flex your hip.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Muscle strains can hurt and can impede the progress you’re making in your physical fitness activities. While there are many easy ways to take care of a rectus femoris strain, the best way of dealing with a rectus femoris strain is to not get it in the first place.

Building up and strengthening those muscles can help prevent the strain from occurring in the first place. And if it does happen, it can help you heal faster and return to your routine in no time.

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