The following quadriceps strengthening exercises are designed to improve strength of the quadriceps muscle (figure 1). The quadriceps comprises of four muscle bellies, one of which is the VMO (Vastus Medialis Obliquus). The VMO is very important in quadriceps and knee rehabilitation exercises. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Quadriceps Strengthening – Basic Exercises
To begin with, the following basic quadriceps strengthening exercises should be performed approximately 10 times, 3 times daily. As your quadriceps strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions and strength of contraction provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Static Inner Quadriceps Contraction
Tighten the muscle at the front of your thigh (quadriceps) by pushing your knee down into a towel (figure 2). Put your fingers on your inner quadriceps (VMO – figure 1) to feel the muscle tighten during contraction. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times as hard as possible pain free.
Quadriceps Strengthening – Intermediate Exercises
The following intermediate quadriceps strengthening exercises should generally be performed 1 – 3 times per week provided they do not cause or increase pain. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your quadriceps strength improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions or resistance of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Resistance Band Knee Extension in Sitting
Begin this exercise in sitting with your knee bent and a resistance band tied around your ankle as shown (figure 4). Keeping your back straight, slowly straighten your knee tightening the front of your thigh (quadriceps). Then slowly return back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.