After your workout, you may notice a throbbing or stabbing sensation in the upper part of your thigh, especially if you've overdone it or haven't properly stretched prior to your workout. Your feet hit the ground around 800 times for every mile you run, so it's no wonder that leg injuries and pain in the upper thigh area are such common complaints for many runners. This pain is most commonly caused by excess strain on your thigh muscles, or the tendons that attach these muscles to your thigh bone.
You may be able to determine the type of injury based on where the pain is located in your upper thigh. Pain at the back of your upper thigh may be a sign of a strained hamstring, a type of injury that is common among sprinters. Another possible cause is a groin pull, characterized by mild to severe pain on the inside of your upper thigh, caused by a tear or strain of your adductor muscles. A quadricep tear or strain is felt in the front of your upper thigh, resulting in difficulty walking, knee pain and varying degrees of limitation in your range of motion. Other possible, less common causes of upper thigh pain are a hernia, adductor inflammation or an inflamed rectus femoris tendon, located at the top and side of your upper thigh.
Upper thigh pain can generally be alleviated by applying ice to the affected area directly after your workout, for the first 24 hours after your injury. Additionally, you may wish to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to control inflammation and swelling, if cleared by your doctor. If you suspect that you're suffering from a groin pull, you may need to stop running for several days and implement a stretching and strengthening regimen for the muscles in this area. If you have a hamstring pull or a quadricep tear or strain, you can most likely continue running but with a decrease in the duration and intensity of your workout.
You can prevent many instances of upper thigh pain caused by running by implementing a basic stretching and strengthening warmup and cool-down prior to your workout. Stretching your hamstrings, groin area and quadriceps is beneficial for lengthening the upper thigh muscles and increasing flexibility, which may help reduce injury. Additionally, using orthotics, supportive inserts for your shoes, can help if you suffer from foot pronation or poor alignment between your foot and leg. Your doctor or a podiatrist can help diagnose this condition and determine whether orthotics are appropriate for your condition. It's important to buy new running shoes every 500 miles. Finally, don't run more than 45 miles in one week. You can increase your risk of overuse injuries if you run more frequently.
If your pain does not subside despite home care techniques, consult your doctor or a podiatrist. You may have a more serious injury that requires medical attention. A doctor can also refer you to a physical therapist for assessment and further treatment. A physical therapist can help determine the root cause of your injury and suggest rehabilitative techniques or exercises that may improve or prevent the recurrence of your condition.