A dead leg, or muscle contusion occurs following a forceful direct blow to a muscle. Very commonly the blow is caused by a collision from an opponent’s knee and most often affects the quadriceps muscle group. Following such a collision the injured player will complain of pain and have difficulty weight bearing. The trauma of the direct forceful blow to the muscle will cause local bleeding and muscle damage. Extremely bad cases of contusion may result in difficulty weight bearing but this usually only last 2-3 days at most.
Players commonly attempt to play on particularly if the injury occurs late on in the game. This is a mistake and will lead to a longer recovery time afterwards. Rest, compression bandaging and icing are the most useful treatment options in the management of muscular contusions, particularly in the early stages. The length of subsequent absence from competition is determined by the severity of the impact and the amount of trauma caused. Vigorous massage needs to be avoided initially to limit the extent of the bleed within the muscle, but stretching, strengthening and some deep tissue massage are effective in speeding up the healing process after the initial bleed has settled.
Recovery from a dead leg is rapid. The injury usually necessities at most a two week absence from competition. Generally physiotherapy is not needed for the treatment of a dead leg but it may speed up recovery if it’s absolutely essential that an athlete return to their sport quickly.