Unlocking Rapid Relief and Effective Recovery: Mastering the Pain of a Corked Thigh

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Playing sports on the weekend? Ever been in a sporting collision and end up with a really bad bruise and pain in the muscle? Most commonly known as getting ‘corked’ but it is also known as a ‘contusion’. Most commonly involved in the quadriceps muscle but can happen with most muscles such as the calf or the upper arm.  


It is more frequently seen in contact sports and sports that require quick starts e.g. NRL or soccer. 


Why does it happen? 

It can happen with collision injuries – when two people run or collide into each other or with poor conditioning. It can also occur such as a fast, hard object directing hitting the muscle.  


Types of contusions 

Intermuscular and Intramuscular. Intermuscular occurs outside of the muscle whilst intramuscular occurs within the muscle.  


What does it feel like? 

Some signs and symptoms of this type of injury are: 

    • Pain – various levels based on injury context 
    • Loss of range of motion in the muscle  
    • Bruising – may take a couple of days to develop 
    • Tender to touch over and around the site of injury that is over soft tissue 
    • Difficulty walking, running or climbing stairs 


There are different grades to contusion injuries and they vary in the way the person might feel the injury. These are based on the type of collision, injury, force and impact at the time of the trauma.

Mild or Grade 1: Mild contusion and some soreness after a cooling down. Maybe tender to touch.

Moderate or Grade 2: Has swelling present with some restricted range of motion (usually <50%). Can be walking with a limp. Bruising can come up in a couple of days.

Severe or Grade 3: Immediate onset of swelling and obvious bruising. Movement loss is severe and trouble with weight bearing.


Best way to avoid this injury, especially when participating in contact sports, would be to wear protective equipment or padding and developing a good strength and conditioning program that is tailored to the sport that you participate in. However you can minimise effects by having proper warm ups and preparing for such instances.  


Return to Sport 

Dependent on the type, grade and severity of the contusion, you can return as early as 2 weeks. If it is more on the severe side, then a minimum of around 8-12 weeks. Usually, intermuscular is much quicker than intramuscular.  



Best thing for contusions is movement! Get the muscle moving. Exercises and light stretches will help to move the muscles.  

Stretches can be done multiple times a day and should be held for 10-30 seconds. You can have some strapping to help minimise the discomfort and pains.  

Exercises to assist with Corked Thighs?

What are some exercises to do? Dependent on the muscle group but for quadriceps (the most common), you can do as a starter could be: 

    • Quadriceps muscle stretches  
    • Gentle foam rolling 
    • Straight leg raises 
    • Seated knee extensions 
    • Squats or sit to stands 


If you are really worried and unsure what to do, book in with a physiotherapist who can help minimise the recovery time and help decrease the likelihood of developing into something serious.

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