Medical Q&As

Quadriceps exercises - how?

Could you please recommend some quad exercises to strengthen a weak knee?

Quad or quadriceps exercises are designed to strengthen the quadriceps group of muscles, which form the bulk of muscle in front of the femur or thighbone. The quadriceps muscles are involved in extension of the leg and are a key component in the maintenance of stability in the knee joint. It is probably best to receive one to one instruction on quads exercises so that you can immediately know that you are doing the exercises correctly. A chartered physiotherapist would be an appropriate person to consult for such instruction. For those who do not suffer from an ongoing knee problem a suitably qualified fitness instructor in your local gym should be able to help. Straight leg raising will help to strengthen these muscles. I will explain this exercise to you but again stress it is best to learn how to do it properly while under supervision. To do this exercise you should sit on the floor and lean back and prop yourself up on your elbows. Bend the unaffected knee so that it is resting at a comfortable angle with the sole of the foot planted firmly on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscles in the affected leg and lift it approximately 12 inches off the floor while keeping the leg straight at all times. If the quadriceps muscles are very weak you will notice that you will not be able to keep the knee fully extended and the weight of the lower leg will cause the knee to be slightly flexed. Keep the leg extended for five seconds and then lower it and relax. This sequence can then be repeated ten times with rest between each extension. Using special ankle weights can strengthen the muscle even further. Gradually increasing the number of extensions and increasing the ankle weights can increase the strength of the muscles in incremental fashion. There are special techniques and various exercise machines available in the gym that can strengthen the quadriceps muscles even further but I would caution against their use if you suffer from a knee problem. Inappropriate exercise on the wrong machine could damage things even further.