After having arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in my right knee several years ago, I had to do some exercises to rebuild my quadriceps muscles. Strong quadriceps stabilize the knee joint and help to prevent injuries. They also help absorb the impact of your foot striking the ground when you run.
If you have ever run a marathon, you know that your quads are probably the muscle that is the most fatigued and sore after the race. After a marathon, your quads may be so tired and sore that you can’t climb or descend stairs easily. You may have seen this funny video about “The Day After the Marathon”. It’s a pretty accurate reflection of how you feel.
Quads are stressed even more when running downhill. Many people get into trouble in the Boston Marathon on the four mile downhill section from Hopkinton to Ashland, long before reaching Heartbreak Hill. To prepare for Boston, some runners practice running downhill, either outdoors or on a treadmill with a negative incline. Some people even raise the back of their treadmill, if it isn’t capable of a negative incline.
Here’s an easy exercise that you can do anywhere to strengthen your quads. Sit on a chair or the edge of a bed. Cross your left leg over your right at the ankle. Straighten your right leg while providing resistance with your left leg. Lower your right leg slowly, while still providing resistance with your left leg. Repeat until your quads are fatigued, then switch legs and repeat the process.
You can do this exercise while sitting at your desk, the dining table, watching TV, etc. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require any equipment. If you are having trouble visualizing this exercise, I’ve embedded a video below.
Give this exercise a try and let me know how you do in the comments.