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David Fisher, MD, MPH: Knee pain? Strengthen your Quadriceps

House Calls Radio

House Calls Radio
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Knee pain? Strengthen your Quadriceps

On yesterday's radio program, a woman called me to ask about the arthritis pain she was experiencing in her knees. She is not alone. Osteoarthritis of the knees is one of the most common joint disorders. It occurs when the cartilage padding between the bones wears down over time. Additional pressure on the knees, whether from being a Major League catcher or from being overweight, will cause that wearing-down process to progress more quickly.

Arthritis pain can be helped if you take some pressure off the knees by strengthening the quadriceps muscles.

This is a group of four muscles that rest on the front of the thigh. They extend the lower leg , allowing the knee to straighten, and they provide stability when standing. They are the most important muscle group for maintaining the ability to stand and to walk independently. They are a key to preventing falls in older adults.

In just five minutes a day, you can keep your quads strong. Several simple exercises can be done either throughout the day or in one sitting. They are:
1) Seated straight leg raise
2) Lying straight leg raise
3) Quad clench

A diagram of these exercises (and one stretching exercise) can be found here.

By taking care of your quads, you will help prevent arthritis, joint deterioration, falls, disability, and loss of independence. Take a few minutes each day to invest in your quads.

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