The rehabilitation process after a knee injury or surgery can be challenging and is undoubtedly a crucial part of regaining joint range, strength and ultimately improving function. On this road to recovery, therapeutic exercise plays a pivotal role, and in this blog, we will focus on one of the most important muscle groups during this process: the quadriceps.
The quadriceps, a set of four muscles located at the front of the thigh, play an essential role in activities of daily living and sport. Alberto Camacho, CEO of Clinica Cales and contributor to marca.com, in an exclusive webinar on “Knee injuries in athletes”, highlighted the relevance of these muscles in rehabilitation. Later in this blog, we present the best quadriceps exercises for your knee telerehabilitation programme.
In which sports are knee injuries most common?
Knee injuries can occur in a variety of sports, but some athletes are more prone to knee injuries. Some of these sports include:
Contact sports: Sports such as football, rugby, American football and hockey, which involve physical contact and collisions, present a higher risk of knee injuries. Direct impacts, sudden twisting and collisions with other players can cause injuries to the ligaments, meniscus and cartilage of the knee.
Jumping and landing sports: Sports that involve repetitive jumping and landing, such as basketball and volleyball, can increase the risk of knee injuries. Sudden jumping and changing direction movements can put significant stress on the ligaments and menisci of the knee, which can lead to sprains, tears and cartilage injuries.
Running sports and long-distance runners: Runners and athletes who participate in running sports, such as track and field and marathon running, are also at increased risk of knee injuries. The repetitive stress of long-distance running can lead to overuse injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome, patellar tendonitis and chondromalacia patella.
Gymnastics sports: Gymnastics sports, such as artistic gymnastics and acrobatics, involve complex movements, jumps, landings and turns that can place significant stress on knee joints. These sports present a high risk of knee injuries, including cruciate ligament and meniscus injuries.
It is crucial to note that regardless of the level of physical activity, both high-performance athletes and sedentary individuals face risks of knee joint pain and injury. The key to reducing these possibilities lies in specific and adapted training.
Benefits of Therapeutic Exercise for the Quads
Scientific evidence strongly supports the effectiveness of quadriceps exercises in the rehabilitation and strengthening of this important musculature. Some key points to consider:
Post-operative recovery: Studies show that quadriceps exercises are essential for post-operative recovery after knee surgeries, such as anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction or knee arthroplasty. These exercises help reduce pain, improve function and speed up the return to normal activities.
Knee strengthening and stability: The quadriceps are key muscles for knee stability. Research shows that quadriceps exercises significantly improve stability and neuromuscular control of the knee, reducing the risk of injury and improving functional performance.
Injury prevention: Keeping the quadriceps strong can help prevent knee-related injuries, especially in athletes and people who perform demanding physical activities. A study in Sports Medicine found that strengthening the quadriceps through proper exercises can reduce the risk of injury in sports involving jumping and changes of direction.
Quadriceps injury rehabilitation: Quadriceps exercises play a vital role in the recovery from specific quadriceps injuries, such as strains or tears. Evidence supports the effectiveness of progressive loading exercises for functional recovery and prevention of recurrences.
Improved function and quality of life: Strengthening the quadriceps not only benefits health and prevents injury, but also improves overall function and quality of life. A study in older people found that strengthening the quadriceps improved functional capacity and reduced disability in daily activities.
Therapeutic Exercise with ReHub: Telerehabilitation for Knee Recovery
Telerehabilitation has emerged as a powerful tool in the field of rehabilitation, offering significant benefits for people suffering from knee injuries. This remote healthcare approach allows patients to receive therapy and follow-up rehabilitation from the comfort of their homes, through online communication with healthcare professionals.
Squats: Squats are an excellent exercise for strengthening the quadriceps and lower body muscles. Start by standing in front of a sturdy chair or wall support. With your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your body down, as if you were going to sit in the chair, keeping your heels in contact with the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position.
Quadriceps isometrics: Sit on a chair or on the floor with an appropriately sized ball under your knee. Perform a knee extension with the aim of squashing the ball into the floor. Hold the pressure for 5 to 10 seconds without moving the ball. Be sure to breathe steadily during the contraction. After holding the contraction, slowly relax the quadriceps and allow the pressure on the ball to gradually decrease. This exercise can also be done lying down.
Bulgarian squat: Stand facing a chair with your back to it. Bring one leg back and rest it on the chair. Keep the other leg stable and in line with the back leg. Bend the knee of the front leg to lower it towards the floor, as if you were doing a squat, and lower it until the knee of the front leg forms a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position by pushing off with the front leg.
Stair climbing: If you have access to a set of stairs, use this opportunity to strengthen your quads. Stair climbing activates and strengthens your leg muscles, including your quads. Start by climbing one step at a time, concentrating on flexing and extending your knees in a controlled manner. As you become more comfortable, you can increase the speed and height of the steps to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Remember to always consult with a health professional before starting any rehabilitation programme and adapt the exercises according to your needs and physical capacity.
If you liked this blog and want more information, we invite you to watch the webinar “Knee injuries in athletes”, by Alberto Camacho, CEO of Clínica Cales and contributor to marca.com.