How To Recover From A Quadriceps Femoris Rupture

How To Recover From A Quadriceps Femoris Rupture

You probably found this article because you were searching for ‘How to recover from quadriceps femoris rupture’

You are in the right place!

In this article Milan gives the behind the scenes perspective on a rectus femoris rupture (Quad). He will explain his own story and how to get amazing results with yours so you can return to running again.


How It Started…

In my youth days I used to play football. I was always very proud of my physical ability and that I could compete with lads a few years older than me. My coaches shared my belief and they transfer me to an older age group team. 


At age 16 the physical demands were immense. These included skills such as tackling, sprinting and change of direction. It also required incredible stamina to be able to repeat these skills over an 80 min period (at that point football match was 2×40 min). 


This was challenging but I adapted without major problems. 


Like many at that age I thought that I was unstoppable…


At least thats what I thought.


Training began to get tough and I notice a warning sign…

kick - often associated with quadricep rupture


In pre season when the intensity of the training sessions amplified I started having a mild tightness in my right Quad muscle. 


At no point did I imagine this might result in a quadricep femoris rupture.


I did what any naïve athlete does.


I ignored it.


Honestly, the warm up and cool down routine with my team was…let’s just say, very poor. 


At that point I thought that stretching the muscle might help and that everything would be fine and resolve on it’s own- so I did what any good athlete would do, I ignored it 


Big mistake. 


After realising that tightness had not improved and that it was becoming more and more uncomfortable and annoying, I spoke with my coach and decided that I needed to rest for a few days.


My suspicion that something was not right were confirmed. 


Fearing I would lose my place at the squad I return to training after 2 weeks and at the very first session I received  a direct hit to the quad. 


Now, I had few fractures before, but the pain that I felt at that moment was unreal, probably because of the fear that I couldnt move my leg. 


After few hours when I manage to get home and my mum who was a nurse had a look at it. We figure that I definitely needed to see a physiotherapist or sports physician. I was unable to extend or bend my knee without tremendous pain.


boy kicking football


It happened over 20 years ago where there was limited educational resources (internet ,youtube videos and were limited or there were none) which made it really hard to do research on what could be causing the problem. Meanwhile I did saw GP and Hospital Physio. They all referred me to a specialist in sports trauma and injury.


We manage to get appointment with a famous sports physician at that time. This doctor was a leading member of a RED STAR medical team when they become European and World Champions back in 1991/1992 season. 


He had an amazing reputation so I was anxious to see what his thoughts were.


I Waited In the Hospital With butterflies In My Stomach 


I can still remember how my stomach was unsettled sitting in the waiting area of his clinic surrounded by posters of football legends (Savicevic, Prosinecki, Jugovic, Mihajlovic etc). All of them had amazing careers after they left RED STAR Belgrade.


I explained the mechanism of injury, my habits and routine before the incident and this amazing gentleman established that I had Grade II tear of Rectus Femoris. This muscle is a part of Quadriceps Femoris group. 


return to sport following quadricep rupture


Their main function is knee extension and hip flexion. As group, they form the strongest muscles in the human body. They also providing knee stability with gluteus medius (this is another topic- how Gluteus medius plays important role with knee instability and pain). Because the Rectus Femoris spans across the knee cap (patella) any sudden knee extension (like kicking the ball) was horrendously painful.


This shocked me…How could someone who is 16 years old and unstoppable (by his own opinion) develop this kind of injury…


It took me few moments to restore my focus on what came afterwards. The Doctor suggested that I was too young for surgery but unless muscle function has been restored ,there isnt any other option .Modern diagnostic techniques such as MRI wasnt available at that time.


I am quite sure that doctor continue to explain how they would perform the surgery but I couldnt hear anything.


How I Narrowly Avoided Surgery Following A Rectus Femoris Tear




If you have ever heard those words you will know the feeling.


The moment feels like it lasts for hours.


Cold sweat ran down my body…At that age  every footballer thinks that can become professional and living their dreams…So many questions were running through my mind, but the main one AM I EVER BE ABLE TO PLAY FOOTBALL AGAIN?


The decision was made to proceed with a non invasive, conservative protocol. 


I was given isometric exercises which consisted of static quad contraction for 5 seconds and was directed to repeat that several times per day.


Expected recovery time would be around 4 months. 


I have noticed that in time the tear was repaired but it left massive gap in the belly of the muscle, which I found out later was scar tissue. 


The whole thigh area was very sensitive and painful. 


I realised that if I couldn’t recover full hip extension and knee flexion, which is needed for the correct lower body position just before kicking the ball, then I definitely wouldn’t be able to generate enough force to achieve long distance passing or shoot towards the goal.


An essential skill in competitive football.


football stadium


So What Did I Learn About Rectus Femoris Rehab?

Although evidence and methods used to treat rectus femoris injuries have changed a lot over the years it is still very important to educate young athletes. 


At this time I was studying to become Physiotherapy Technician. Anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation etc was something that we were exposed to daily in our studies. 


In reality a practical approach was not enough on it’s own.


I always thought there has to be something between the moment

when you get injured and the point when you return to play again.


What Can We Learn From Our Hero’s?


We can debate now who is a better player Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar or Mbape, but who ever grew up in Late 90’s can remember Ronaldo aka Nazario da Lima Ronaldo aka Real Ronaldo. 


The way how he danced with the ball and with such speed and elegance-that was masterpiece. 


In 1996 when Barcelona won  UEFA Cup Winners cup in 2nd round they played against my team Red Star from Belgrade. 


From that day onwards if you ask me who was the best footballer ever-without any hesitation I would say Ronaldo Fenomeno. 


After the knee injury he did manage to recover and to become World Champion with Brasil in 2002. 


But the lifestyle started to have the impact on his performance. You can see this sport requires huge rehabilitation to make sure that when you return you can cope with the high demands that are require when accelerating, changing direction and kicking. 


You must remember…

  1. Get a clear diagnosis so you can make sure you facilitate healing and maximise results by doing the right things.
  2. Get education so you don’t ignore injuries and risk more serious injury. 
  3. PEACE and LOVE – See this article for more info
  4. Start rehabilitation as soon as possible under guidance of your physiotherapist or sports therapist.
  5. Ensure you are hitting all the relevant milestones to ensure you are safe to return to play.
  6. Introduce strategies such as sleep hygiene, strength and conditioning programs, weight training and good nutrition to reduce your risk of further injury.


Thanks for your time. I hope you have enjoyed learning about rectus femoris injuries. Please book your free discovery call to learn more about your injury and to see if we can help. We treat many people via our virtual and face to face services. 


Written by Milan Petrovic ( edited by Nicole)