Quadriceps are a frequently strained muscle. They tend to linger and most care guides for them suck. This will be the early care guide for a quad strain.
What Are The Best Exercises To Treat A Quad Strain?
Do not use RICE, POLICE, PRICE or any of those useless abbreviations (LINK). Comparatively, when you need to treat a quad strain, you need to strengthen it. To treat and rehab a quad strain, you need to focus on the main function of the quad, knee extension. This muscle is almost always strained when trying to slow down. Yes, the quad also works to flex the hip, but it is rarely injured that way so we will focus on knee extension. If you want to learn about hip flexor injuries, we have that here.
- Wall slides
- Knee extensions
Isometrics For A Quad Strain
Isometrics are the single best rehab early on in the rehab phase (source). They strengthen the muscle without lengthening or shortening of the muscle. Also, this allows the exercise to be very tolerable early on as well as having 0 risk of damaging the muscle.
- Guide below
- Complete 2x a day separated by 6 hours
- Do 20 reps per session
Wall Slides For A Quad Strain
This is NOT a static stretch. This is going to be moving the muscle through as much pain free ROM as there is.
- Slide the injured side down as low as possible with as little pain as possible
- Hold this position for 1 second
- Release and go back to the starting point as pictured below
- Perform this again and find that painful range again
- As you perform more and more reps, that painful sticking point will get lower and lower until full ROM is established
- Perform 50 reps per session, twice a day
- Repeat for as long as needed to restore full ROM
Knee Extensions For A Quad Strain
Do not progress to this phase until you have full ROM. Strengthening a muscle in a limited motion will result in causing more dysfunction and increasing injury risk. Below give you 4 options pending what equipment you have access to. You can have access to a gym, bands, ankle weights or nothing. There is no excuse to not load your quad
- Regardless of option, complete 3 sets of 12 reps
- Increase reps before adding weight
- ie progress from 12-15-20 reps, then add weight when 20 is achievable
These exercises will take you from an acute quad strain to have normal ROM and some return to normal function. This now sets you on the path to begin a proper rehab/strengthening program.
Most knee issues are quad issues so this guide can help on two different fronts. For more on knee pain, check here.