Quad Rehab

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The rehabilitation of a quad strain is very important.  Rehab begins immediately after the injury occurs: utilize the RICE principle;  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Ice and Compression are the most important in reducing muscle spasms, pain, and  swelling.  An effort to curtail immediate swelling will assist the athlete in returning to competition sooner.  If the athlete consults a physician, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medication may be prescribed for this injury.                         

Light stretching should be utilized immediately post injury.  This will help reduce muscle spasms and make stretching more beneficial in the days to come.  Utilize standard quad stretching techniques with the hip flexed and extended.  These should be performed with at 10 second hold of the stretch, repeated three to five times daily.

Another early rehab techniques used is called Quad Sets.  These are simply an isometric contraction of the muscle.  The athlete tries to make the muscle flex and hold  for 10 seconds, repeating 30 - 60 times, three to five times daily.

Strengthening of the injured muscle should be begun 2 to 7 days post-injury, depending upon the severity.  These exercises include:

  • four plane straight leg raises, 

  • seated hip flexion, 

  • seated knee extension, 

  • partial squats, and 

  • side step-ups.  

Interval training on a stationary bicycle should also be utilized at this point.

During this phase of the injury electrical muscle stimulation, and/or ultrasound can be used.  It is important that the swelling be controlled prior to use of these modalities.  Using ultrasound too early can result in increased bleeding and a longer recovery time.  Also, these modalities should be performed only by an Athletic Trainer or other qualified personnel.

Five (5) to 12 days post-injury the third phase of the rehab can begin.  This phase should start when the previous exercises can be performed with little or no discomfort.  This is a more functional phase and provides a transition from the basic exercises to return to competition.  These exercises include:

  • high knee jogging, 

  • running with coast-thru-stops, 

  • cariocas, 

  • bounding drills, or

  •  vertical leaps that progress to horizontal jumping.  

These are not all of the advanced exercises that can used, please try to make these drills sport specific.

The athlete can return to full activities as tolerated when the activities can be completed with little or no discomfort, quad strength is equal bilaterally, and the quad-to-ham strength is 60 - 80%.  The area should also be padded for protection.

Quad Strengthening Exercises

Lower Body Stretching

General lower extremity rehabilitation sheet.   



2000 - 2009 David Edell

Information on this site is not a substitute for physician directed care.

Please consult your personal physician for more detailed information

concerning specific injuries or illnesses.

Last Update for AthleticAdvisor.com: 10/24/2009 12:09:35 AM