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The upper leg is formed by the femur (or thigh bone), the heaviest and strongest bone in the body which runs from the hip joint to the knee. The top of the femur forms a rounded head that joins with the hip in a deep and secure joint. The bottom of the thigh bone joins with the tibia and forms the knee joint.
The patella (knee cap) forms a joint with the smooth patellar surface at the bottom of the femur. There are numerous muscles acting on the thigh which control movement at the hip and knee, as well as helping us stand upright against the pull of gravity. At the front of the femur are a group of four muscles collectively known as the quadriceps, they help to straighten the knee for actions such as kicking a ball.
At the back of the leg are three muscles which form what we call the hamstring group (named so because butchers use their tendons to hang hams, which are thigh and hip muscles). These muscles act to bend the knee and straighten the leg at the hip joint. On the inside of the upper leg we have the adductor muscles which are referred to as the groin muscles, their function is to bring the thigh back to a central position.
To help stabilise the hip joint there are three ligaments; the ischiofemoral, pubofemoral and the iliofemoral ligament, which is, not only, the strongest of the three but also the strongest in the entire body.
The most common injuries to this part of the body are ligament and muscle strains.
Hamstring Strain – Actions such as running, jumping and lunging involve the use of the hamstring tendons and muscles. Hamstring injuries are common in athletes and sports such as football see many players side lined with hamstring issues. A hamstring injury can be relatively minor with the fibres becoming strained (grade one tear) or the muscle can completely rupture (grade three tear). A grade three tear can cause severe pain and several months out of action.
Thigh Injuries – The most common injury sustained in relation to the thigh are a strained quadriceps, which are the muscles located in the front of the thigh (anterior muscles) and made up of four individual muscles in the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medius, Vatus Lateralis and Vastus Intermedius. Their main function is to extend the knee (and lower leg) and assist in hip flexion with the muscle being active when the knee joint is bent or in motion. The quadriceps are pivotal when running or lifting and therefore a strain here can have an impact on activity and your overall motion.
There are braces and supports available for each area of the body, designed to manage specific conditions during recovery by offering anything from compression to stability of a joint. The thigh, groin and hamstring regions have a number of supports available depending on the specific condition you wish to manage in the form of compression shorts.
It is important to note that before making any purchase if you have any questions you should speak with a clinician to ensure that the correct brace or support is purchased.