by Symon Lovett

Muscle contusions or more colloquially know as a ‘corky’ usually occur in contact sports like football, rugby and soccer. Following a large contact with an opponent, often a knee to the thigh, which causes intense focal pain, sometimes with numbness and the dreaded ‘dead leg’ sensation. This can affect function and mobility causing a range of impairments depending on their severity.

What has happened?

The impact of the opponent has crushed your muscle against the hard bone surface within you, causing muscular injury. This injury causes bleeding into the surrounding area. Corkys can result in large bruising but can also show no external signs as the injury has occurred deep within the limb. They will be painful to touch and often hurt with movement of the muscle, whether stretching or contracting.

What to do:

During play

Keep moving to avoid stiffness

Depending on the severity and location you may be able to continue playing. However in the more severe cases the recovery process should start immediately.

Early stage 0-72 hours

R – rest. While light stretching is okay, Try not to overdo it in this early part of recovery

I – ice. 20 minutes on every two hours

C– compression. Wearing tights or a compression bandage around the affect area will help reduced excessive bleeding in the area.

E – elevation. elevation

No massage in the early stage. Due to the nature of the injury, increase blood flow to the area in the stage can increase the bleeding, causing a persistence of pain and reduction in function.

And importantly stay off the grog. Whilst the beers after the game can be the best part about sport, the increased blood flow that occurs while drinking can undo all of the early recovery work completed immediately following the injury.

72 hours after

Increase the intensity of stretching work

Restore your function

• This is the time to stop limping, stop the avoidance of use for the affected area. Often, using our affected limbs in the correct and normal fashion will go a long way to restoring the muscles range of motion.


• Begin a massage regime to remove the buildup of waste byproducts your body has recruited to help recovery

• Can help improve range of motion which in turn aids to return of normal function

• The injury should be assessed by a qualified professional to determine readiness for massage as starting too early can cause re-bleeding and increase the risk of complications eg. Myositis ossificans

• After getting the go-ahead, foam rolling through the quads can be helpful. Foam Rolling exercise

Return to Sport

• A gradual re-introduction of running and sports specific skills should occur via training according to pain levels and persistence of joint stiffness or swelling

When to see the Physiotherapist

If possible, early assessment by one of our Physiotherapists can guide you through the initial recovery stage. However, if unable to attend immediately,seeing a physio following 72 hours after injury to begin a hands-on management program is the best option. From this stage we can massage, dry needle and educate for an effective return to activity.