Wall Slides: An Effective Quad Strengthening Exercise

Wall Slide. Photo © Dr. Laura Inverarity

Wall slides are an effective way to strengthen your quadriceps muscles, more commonly referred to as "the quads." Those are the big muscles on the front of your thighs that help straighten your knees. They are very active when climibing stairs and when rising from a seated position. The wall slide exercise also works the gluteal muscles and your calf muscles. This exercise is a closed chain exercise; your feet remain in contact with the ground the entire time. 

If you are having difficulty with functional mobility or have a lower extremity injury, you may benefit from physical therapy to help you recover fully. During your rehab, your physical therapist may prescribe lower extemriety stnrethtening exercises. The wall slide may be one of those exercises. And the nice thing about the wall slide: it can easily be done independently as part of your home exercise program. You need no special tools or machinery to perform the exercise.

If you have never done the wall slide before, start easy. Begin with low reps of five, increasing to ten or fifteen repetitions as quad muscle strength improves. This exercise should be done one time a day for effective strengthening.

Although wall slides appear easy, if you have an injury, it is an exercise that should not be done too early in the rehabilitation process. Discuss this exercise with your physician or physical therapist before proceeding.

How to Do a Wall Slide

To effectively perform a wall slide, follow these instructions:

  1. Stand upright with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall for a count of five until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle. (Do not bend too much further than this, as it will cause increased strain on your knees.)
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  4. Begin straightening your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall until you are fully upright with knees straight.
  5. Repeat the above steps five more times.
  6. Some people use a therapy ball behind their back to do the wall slide. To do this, just place a Swiss ball between you and the wall prior to starting.

Progress slowly, and stop if you start to feel pain or difficulty. Remember, check in with your doctor before doing any exercise.

As you progress with your wall slide exercise, you should find it easier to get up from a chair, climib or descend stairs, or simply walk. your quad muscles are responsible for so much function in the lower extremities, and the wall slide exercise is a very functional exercise.

As this exercise becomes easier, increase the number of repetitions you do each day. Also, as your quads become stronger, you can do a few things to add extra challenge to the exercise. Some things you can to do make the wall slide more challenging include:

  • Try one-legged wall slides
  • Do the wall slide while holding weights in your hands.
  • Stand on an unsteady surface, like a pillow while doing the wall slide.

Although primarily a strengthening exercise, this activity can also help you improve your balance as well.

Wall slides are a grea physical therapy exercise to help strengthen your quads and entire lower extremity. The exercise is a very functional movement, and you should notice rapid gains in your mobility once you incorporate wall slides into your daily routine. If you are having difficulty moving around or if you have a lower extremity injury, check in with your doctor and physical therapist. Your PT may prescribe wall slides to help you move better and improve your overall functional mobility.

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