All but the most minor quad pulls are painful. Some typical symptoms of a pulled quad muscle include:
- sudden, sharp pain at the front of the upper leg during exercise – most usually felt during sprinting or bursts of speed and potentially accompanied by a “popping” feeling. The quads are responsible for straightening the leg, so such motions can be quite uncomfortable.
- a spasm or stiffness in the upper leg, especially felt when stretching.
- swelling and tenderness
- bruising in the upper leg (which indicates blood vessels have been ruptured)
- overall weakness in the quadriceps
- gap or irregularity in the quad muscle, which is usually the sign of some form of muscle fiber tear
There are many causes for quad muscle pulls, but here are a few of the most common.
- lack of flexibility in the quadriceps – even a mild force can pull a tight muscle
- poor quadriceps strength
- strength or flexibility imbalance between the hamstring and the quadriceps. These muscle groups work opposite one another, so having a complimentary amount of strength and suppleness in both groups is important
- being overtired or not warming up prior to stressful activity
- overstretching the quadriceps
- sudden stress upon quadriceps
- impact to the quadriceps by an outside force
Additionally, if you are tired or your muscles are cold, this increases your chances for a muscle pull.
For more information on Treatment of a Pulled Quad Muscle, read the Pulled Quad Treatment page.