The reason why Leg Extension's are over-rated!

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Are you doing leg extension's at the gym and wondering whether you could be doing something better?

"For most people the leg extension machine is a waste of time, and may actually be increasing knee pain"

The old faithful leg extension machine....it's been in every gym since the beginning of time, Every time I walk into the gym there is someone smashing away on this piece of equipment and I am continually puzzled as to why. What is their aim, do they know what it does, are they aware of much better options?

The leg extension machine as far as I am concerned is a machine that is designed for a bodybuilder. Someone who wants to isolate the quads, focus on specific muscle growth, purely from a looks point of view.

“When in life do we sit down and need strength to swing our leg in the air? The answer is never!"

The majority of people who visit the gym aren't bodybuilders. They aren't looking for isolated gains, they are looking for FUNCTIONAL strength. Strength they can use. Strength that mimics everyday activities or their chosen sport. It could be jumping, landing, sprinting etc. So that's exactly how we need to train our quads.....FUNCTIONALLY. Squats, lunges, step ups, box jumps etc. are all examples of functional training patterns. You are driving up from the ground! This is key!

WHY I DON'T LIKE LEG EXTENSIONS:

NO CO-CONTRACTION

  • In conventional squats and lunge type movements there is contraction of the quadriceps ( to extend the knee) at the same time as there is contraction of the hamstring group ( to extend the hip ) – this is termed co-contraction. In the Leg Extension exercise there is contraction of the quads with limited hamstring involvement, promoting an imbalance resulting in shearing forces across the knee.

MASSIVE PATELLA LOAD

  • Leg extension place huge amount of loads through the patellofemoral joint (the joint between your kneecap and thigh bone). This is commonly an area that is irritated and if you have ever had pain around the kneecap you have likely suffered yourself. The massive loads can simply make this irritation worse!

REDUCED MUSCLE INVOLVEMENT

  • The majority of gym goers are time poor and are better off completing exercises that involve a large number of muscle groups. Where is the glute and hamstring activation in a leg extension? This right, it's not there. The simple squat wins in terms of the number of muscle groups involved, hands down!

If you need PHYSIO GUIDANCE ON YOUR GYM PROGRAM OR NEED YOUR KNEE INJURY ASSESSED SIMPLY CONTACT THE CLINIC ON 5174 7250 or BOOK ONLINE with myself or one of our expert Physio's below. We can't wait to help get you back to your best!

AUTHOR: Devon soutar - Physiotherapist