Your quadriceps or quad muscles are located on the front of your thigh and help you extend and straighten your leg. A quadriceps tear is a serious injury that prohibits you from moving the lower leg and requires surgery. It most commonly occurs in those who play sports that require a significant amount of running and/or jumping. If you have torn quad muscles, your physician will recommend exercises to maintain circulation to prevent blood clots. As the leg begins to heal, more extensive exercises can be performed. Do not begin any exercises without your physician’s approval.
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When you recover from a torn quad, your physical therapist will recommend initial exercises to encourage blood flow. You may wish to ice the affected thigh as you perform these exercises to reduce inflammation. An exercise example is the toe flex-and-point. Sit with your legs extended or while lying on your unaffected side and point and flex your toes 20 times. To increase the difficulty, you may wish to loop a resistance band around the balls of your feet, holding the band’s ends in your hands.
As your quadriceps muscles begin to heal, you can perform stretching exercises to reduce tension and the chance of deconditioning, where your muscles lose strength from disuse. Quadriceps stretches include pulling your foot toward your buttocks and feeling a stretch in the front of your thigh. While seated, you can cross your leg over your knee and lean forward, feeling the stretch in your quadriceps. Do not bend the leg this much until you can do so without pain.
Strengthening is an important part of torn quad exercises because strong quad muscles are better able to withstand wear and tear. Initially perform isometric quad strengthening exercises by sitting and contracting the quad muscles, holding the position for 10 to 15 seconds. Release and repeat five times. As your muscles heal, you can perform exercises like squats and lunges to strengthen the quads.
Because running activities and sports are a frequent cause of quadriceps muscle tears, you may wish to return to running after a torn quad. Your physical therapist can recommend a program that involves running at a significantly slower pace to regain range of motion in the quad. When you initially return to running, you should avoid more intense motions like kicking or changing weight quickly on the balls of your feet. As you are able, you can increase your speed.