Care Tools: Fitness Center
Short Arc Quad Extension

General Overview:

This exercise is intended to work on strengthening and control of the quadriceps muscles on the anterior (front) aspect of the leg being worked as well as working on re-establishing active Range of Motion (ROM) for knee extension. It will focus specifically on developing terminal knee extension with a concentration on strengthening the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO) muscle of the quadriceps. This muscle plays an important role in the proper tracking of the patella (kneecap) and is one of the muscles that gives way to atrophy early on in the injury/post-surgical cycle.

Why do this Exercise?

To increase strength within the quadriceps and increase active ROM for knee extension.

Detailed Description

Rolled up towel or pillow.
Seated with a straight back on a hard surface (floor) with arms at your side to offer support. Unaffected leg bent up to a 90° angle with foot placed flat on the floor. Affected leg extended straight out in front of your body with toes pointed straight up towards the ceiling and heel in constant contact with the floor. Place rolled towel/pillow directly underneath the knee of the affected leg.
While looking at your VMO (the teardrop shaped bulge just above and toward the inside of your knee) concentrate on contracting/tightening your quadriceps muscle lifting your lower leg and heel off the ground and into the air. This motion should be performed in a slow, smooth and controlled motion. Keep your ankle at a 90° with your toes pointed up towards the ceiling. You want to extend your lower to as straight as possible without pain. Concentrate on holding the contraction for 5 seconds and then slowly relax the muscle allowing your lower leg to return back down to the ground. Relax the muscle and rest for 5-10 seconds and then repeat 10 times. As strength and control increase you can increase from 1 set of 10 reps up to 3 sets of 10 reps. This exercise should be repeated 2-3 times per day.

Additional Information:

This exercise should only be performed within a pain free range of motion. This may necessitate using a smaller towel/pillow to achieve a comfort level. Do not continue this exercise if there is pain, swelling or a significant increase in skin temperature (skin becomes hot/warm to the touch). The recommended repetitions are here to serve as guideline. Keep in mind that each person is different and you must modify your activity according to the feedback your body provides. If you feel your muscles getting fatigued (a good thing) and you begin losing control (leg begins twitching) stop and return to the exercise at another time. Do not perform this exercise on a soft surface (i.e. bed) because it will not achieve the desired results. Do not use quick jerky movements with this exercise; it is intended to be performed in a slow and controlled motion.
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About Recovery
This exercise is recommended for early stage rehabilitation of an injured or post-surgical knee.


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