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Strengthening the Quads
Strengthening the quadriceps muscles is very important for injury prevention. If you have a weak quadriceps, your hamstring muscles can overpower them resulting in a strain or torn muscle. The strength from your knee comes from these long, thin muscles. A torn muscle or strain can take weeks to heal and can be very painful. Activity such as running and jogging must cease until the injury has healed. Using quadriceps strengthening exercises can prevent injury as well as tone.
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Quadriceps Strengthening Exercises
Before doing quadriceps strengthening exercises, you need to start with a good stretch. Stand straight with one leg bent. Grasp the foot of the bent leg with your hand and slowly pull your heel to your buttocks. You will feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds then release. Repeat the stretch on the opposite leg.
Squats are a simple and basic exercise use to strengthen quadriceps. Start with a shoulder width stance and slightly bent knees. Begin to squat until your thighs are parallel with the floor then come back up. Increase the intensity of this exercise by carrying dumbbells in your hands.
Lunges are great for strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings. Although this exercise is primarily for the quadriceps muscles, the hamstrings are hard at work as well during this workout. Stand with your left foot in front. Keep a good distance between your legs. Bend your knees and slowly go down. Hold this position for a moment, then return to your starting position. Switch legs and repeat. To increase the intensity of this exercise carry dumbbells in your hands.
Leg extensions is an exercise that is performed on a machine so is easy enough for anyone to do. Take your seat on the machine and lock your legs behind the bar and extend your legs away from your body. The machine will let you increase or decrease the amount of weight you use. The amount of weight you select should cause your legs to weaken after 10 to 12 repetitions.
Dumbbell step ups are easy enough that you can do them at home. All you need is something to step up on and a pair of dumbbells. With dumbbells in hand, place your right foot on the step and then bring it back down to the floor. Repeat this movement with the left leg. You can do this exercise by alternating legs or doing an entire side at once. Just remember to do the same amount of repetitions per leg.
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Physio Advisor: Quadricep Stretches - www.physioadvisor.com.au/8281050/quadriceps-stretches-thigh-stretches-quadriceps.htm
About Physical Therapy: Quadricep Exercises - www.physicaltherapy.about.com/od/strengtheningexercises/p/Quadstrength.htm
CAAWS Girls at Play: Biomechanics - www.caaws.ca/girlsatplay/stuff/health/knees_hurt.htm