If you've rushed your workout and suffered a strained thigh muscle, the pain can be debilitating and keep you from exercising for a while. You might find yourself resting, icing, compressing and elevating your leg per doctor's orders. Once the pain subsides, he might suggest strengthening exercises that target your hamstrings or quadriceps, which are the muscles most likely to be injured. These targeted exercises can help prevent re-injury of your muscles, and before you know it, you'll be back in the gym getting your workout on.
Leg raises are beneficial if you've suffered a quadriceps strain, which causes pain in the front of your upper leg. To do this exercise, sit on the floor with your legs extended forward. Raise the affected leg off the floor as high as you comfortably can without leaning your upper body backward or bending your knee. Hold the contraction in your quadriceps for three seconds and lower your leg back down to the floor. Repeat this up to 20 times. As you get stronger, hold the contraction for five seconds or wear ankle weights for an additional challenge.
To target your hamstrings at the back of your upper legs, do single-leg catches. Lie on your tummy on a bed or bench with your feet extended over the edge. Bend your knees 90 degrees so your feet point up at the ceiling. Extend your left knee and drop your left leg down toward the bed. Resist the movement by contracting your hamstring and catch your leg before your shin touches the bed. Alternate your legs and repeat this 10 to 20 times. As you get stronger, wear ankle weights for an extra challenge.
Knee extensions target your quadriceps. To do this exercise, sit in a chair that's high enough so your feet don't touch the floor when your knees are bent 90 degrees. Raise the foot of your affected leg forward and straighten your knee. Squeeze your quadriceps for two seconds and slowly return your foot to the starting point. Do this 10 times and complete two sets. As you get stronger add an extra set or wear ankle weights to make the exercise more challenging.
The bridge exercise can help strengthen the hamstrings and quadriceps. Start by lying on your back with your arms extended at your sides, your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Suck in your tummy and tighten your tush as you push your hips up until they form a straight line with your thighs and torso. Pause for two seconds before slowly lowering your hips to the starting position. Start with 10 repetitions and as you get stronger, work your way up to doing 20 repetitions.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.