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Quadriceps, Hamstring, and Groin Strains

Muscle strains, or muscle pulls, occur when an athlete stretches the musculature beyond its normal limit, or a load is placed on the muscle that the muscle is not strong enough to counteract. This results in a strain or tear of the muscle fibers. Groin strains typically occur during a lateral movement, particularly during a quit cut to the side while running. Hamstring (the back of the thigh) and quadriceps (the front of the thigh) strains typically occur during sudden accelerations or decelerations while running.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Muscle strains are diagnosed by obtaining a thorough history of the injury, palpation of the anatomy to detect pain and defects in the muscle, and strength and flexibility testing. An MRI may be performed on more serious strains to determine the extent of the tear.


The best prevention for muscle strains is to maintain good flexibility and strength in the muscle. This can be accomplished by stretching daily and doing regular strength training. A dynamic warm-up period of about 15 to 20 minutes, in which the muscles are warmed up and used in preparation for activity, also is extremely beneficial.


Rehabilitation for muscle strains usually consists of the use of ice, heat, electronic stimulation, or ultrasound. Regaining flexibility in the muscle, and normal or improved strength levels, also are required for a safe return to activity. A compression wrap or compressive shorts may be worn to alleviate discomfort associated with minor strains.

Content on this page is for informational purposes only. If injured, please consult a physician.

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