Clearing anterior thigh pain for pain-free running:
Anterior thigh pain is a pain in the front of the thigh or quads and is a common complaint amongst runners. It’s easy to see why, when you consider the constant bending and straightening of the knees during running and the pressure this places on the thigh muscles (quadriceps).
Add to the mix factors such as increased mileage, overuse, muscular imbalance or over-pronation of your feet and you have the perfect recipe for developing painful thigh pain. This month, we look at possible causes of anterior thigh pain and what you can do to stop it from holding you back.
Correct diagnosis is crucial for a quicker route to recovery:
As always, correct diagnosis of the source of pain is the key. Once you know exactly what you are dealing with, the road to recovery will be quicker. Resting alone will not help. If you have been resting for 1-2 weeks and the pain has not abated, then it is definitely time to find out what is causing your pain and get it treated accordingly.
Are your quads the culprit?
If your pain is due to a quads strain, there is likely to have been localised swelling and bruising straight away after the injury. In this case, the usual RICE regime will apply (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), along with gentle twice daily quads stretches for a few days.
Should you feel pain when you start back to running, it is possible that excessive scar tissue (fibrosis) has built up within the muscle. In this case, deep soft tissue massage is recommended to break up the scar tissue and allow you to get back to running pain-free, along with home stretches and gentle strengthening exercises. An experienced physio will be able to advise you on this.
Does your thigh pain stem from your lower back?
In cases where no swelling or bruising occurred at the time of injury, even if the pain was severe, it is possible that your lower back may be referring the pain to your thigh. If this is the case, no amount of soft tissue pummeling of the quads will help. What you will find, when you try to return to running, is that you will be stopped in your tracks by a flare up of the original pain in your thigh and often the pain is severe. An experienced physio should be able to identify the area of the spine from which the pain is coming from and treat it with manual techniques to mobilise or loosen the affected spinal segment and clear the pain. Often, the person will need to be positioned in a running position for this treatment.
Altered nerve movement, another common cause:
Poor movement of the nerve that runs down the front of the thigh (the femoral nerve) is another common cause of anterior thigh pain. Again, there will be no swelling or bruising at the time of the injury but persistent pain on trying to return to running. If the pain is due to altered nerve movement (altered neural dynamics), then specific controlled movements of the nerve running down the front of the thigh will need to be undertaken by a physio experienced in treating nerve pain, to restore free nerve movement and clear the pain. Home exercises will be given to keep the nerve moving freely between treatment sessions and after the course of treatment has finished to prevent re-occurrence of the problem.
Diagnose, treat, cure and prevent recurrence:
As with every injury; there is always a reason. At Apex Clinic, we aim to get to the bottom of what is causing pain, and why it happened, not just treat the sore bit! Finding the cause of the injury will mean we can prevent it recurring and you can continue running pain-free for longer.