The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates you may need to forgo exercise for between 10 and 21 days and up to as long as six months depending on the severity of a muscle strain. But once you’re on the mend, your doctor may recommend a non-impact conditioning program to help increase blood flow to the strained muscle. For a strained quad, this type of program can include using an elliptical machine.
Your quadriceps are four large muscles along the front of each thigh, and each time you take a step, you engage them. Overstretching your quads can cause strain, as can sudden stress before the muscles are ready, overuse, performing a strenuous activity such as dance and experiencing a blow to that area, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. The stronger and more flexible your quads, the less likely you will reinjure them and the faster they can heal.
The non-impact nature of an elliptical machine makes it superior to other aerobic activities in many ways, even when you’re not nursing a strained quad. An elliptical machine doesn’t put unnecessary strain on your hips, back and knees, according to Dr. Edward Laskowski, a MayoClinic.com physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, which can prevent an injury or strain from occurring. Approach elliptical use when you have a strained quad as if you are a beginner. Go slow at first, gradually increase your speed during your workout and aim for 20 minutes. If you begin to feel pain in your quads when you’re on the elliptical, stop your workout immediately, says Laskowski.
Once any pain is gone and you get your doctor’s OK to begin strengthening exercises, gently warm up your quad before getting on an elliptical. This warm-up can include walking slowly and then gentle stretches. Try standing or supine quad stretches, holding each for about 10 seconds and repeating six times. Stretching your quadriceps at the end of your workout when they are warm can help you recover from a strain as well.
Keep In Mind
The NYU Langone Medical Center recommends resting at least one day between workouts to let your muscles recover. And it recommends decreasing duration and intensity if your muscles hurt the next day. Keep your doctor in the loop, especially if something starts to hurt, and make sure she approves your using an elliptical when you’re recovering from a strained quad.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.