Osteoartritis And Quad Weakness

Desiree. July 19, 2022

The Quadriceps Femoris or Quads is located at the front of your thigh and consists of 4 muscles, hence the name. Quadriceps is the Latin word for “four-headed”.

Your Quads are some of the largest and strongest muscles in your body. As you get older, they weaken with age and this weakness can be linked with osteoarthritis (OA) as the four large muscles attach at the front of your knee. If you reduce usage of your quads, then this inactivity weakens the muscles and you can get pain in your knee.

The first sign of Knee OA is reduced strength in your quads. This can develop before you even notice any pain in your knee or other symptoms. People who do have OA experience a reduction of 15-18% strength in their Quads prior to the disease developing.

Aging is not fun! Your muscles change and your lean muscle mass and muscle fibre size decrease while the fat between your muscles increases and this means that you have less strength in your legs. For example, when you are walking, there is not as much spring in your step. Research has shown that lean muscle mass is directly related to knee health: your muscle strength declines faster than your lean muscle mass. From about the age of 50, your muscle strength decreases by approximately 1.5-2.5% per year. In contrast, lean muscle mass decreases by 1% from about the age of 60.

Simple Exercises to Strengthen your Quads

Always start with warm ups i.e. gentle stretching or riding a bike, for about 10-15 minutes.

Perform one set of the following exercises, starting with five repetitions of each exercise and work up to 10 repetitions. Then eventually add a second or third set as you get stronger.

Mini-squat. Hold the back of a chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees into a small squat and hold for six seconds. Slowly rise up, keeping your muscle tight.

Quad stretch. Using the same chair, step one foot back until you feel a deep stretch in that thigh. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Leg lift. Sitting in the chair with a resistance band around your ankles, slowly lift one leg as high as you can and hold for six seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Leg raises. Lying flat on the floor, bend one knee while keeping your other leg straight. Lift the straight leg as high as 10 inches (25cm) off the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Back leg raises. Lying on your stomach with your legs straight, clench one thigh and lift your leg. Hold for five seconds, then lower. Repeat with your other leg.

Stair steps. Standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs (or using a small stool), put one foot on the stair. Put the other foot on the stair, then move it back down to the floor. Repeat for one minute, then switch legs.

Working with a Physiotherapist such as myself is a great way to learn more exercises to strengthen your legs safely. I see quads weakness and OA all the time at the Physiotherapy Clinics in Maidstone and in Sittingbourne!

In addition to strengthening your quads, there are other ways to improve the arthritis in your knee.

1. Losing weight, if you are overweight, can help reduce stress on the knee.

2. Avoiding high impact activities such as running and switching to lower impact workouts such as swimming will both strengthen your muscles and lessen stress on the joint.

3. An anti-inflammatory balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables may help, along with taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.

Something to remember- Strengthening the muscles will not repair the bony changes but, will help lessen your pain meaning you can remain mobile and independent.

Come and see me at one of our Clinics and I will be happy to talk to you about this, otherwise give us a call and I will be able to talk to you on the phone!

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