How to Train Your VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique) for Stronger Knees

Learn how to train your VMO (vastus medialis oblique) in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.

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Do you have a bad knee or bad knees? Get relief from knee pain and stiffness by learning how to do your own physical therapy, at home or at the gym. It's easy with the knee exercises demonstrated by physical therapist Eric Sampson in these Howcast videos. Eric will show you how to relieve knee pain from bursitis, surgery, a torn meniscus or ligament, jumper's knee, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and other common knee ailments.

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Hi. My name is Eric Sampson, and I'd like to spend a few minutes talking about how to properly train your VMO. The VMO is short for your vastus medialis oblique. It's the inner portion of your quadriceps muscle, which is basically the front of your thigh. The VMO is very important to train and train properly in the presence of any degeneration in your knee. Classically, the knee will degenerate on the medial side of your knee due to some skeletal alignment issues or just the normal wear and tear process. So working on your VMO a little extra, rather than just doing the quadriceps alone, is going to be important to try to prevent the knee injuries as well as recovering from the injuries. So two exercises that are wonderful for the VMO, they're real simple to do at home as well as in a gym setting, is going to be a straight leg raise where you're concentrating a little bit more on your VMO. So the best thing to do is to first straighten out your leg, and the trick is to try to turn your foot out laterally. I often tell my patients to point their toes at about 11 o'clock or 10 o'clock if you pretending there's a clock in front of you. From there, you're trying to tighten up your thigh and then basically lift up your leg. But by having that hip angled, you're going to be working your inner quad portion of your VMO a little bit more. So you can lower that back down. So you tighten up and then you lift, and then you would lower back down. The other exercise that's real simple to do is call the bridge, something that we do a lot. But if you take a medicine ball or really anything with a little bit of weight and you put it between the knees and you squeeze while you're doing the bridge lift, you're actually going to contract your inner thigh and your VMO muscles a little more than you ordinarily would do on a regular bridge. So bridges and your straight leg raises, if you're doing this on a regular basis, I recommend maybe two sets of ten on alternating days, three sets of ten as you get a little stronger, and then you can kind of progress with the leg raises to a weight, or you can continue doing this and holding your bridge up a little bit longer as a progression.

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  • Eric Sampson

    Eric received his education from Boston University and has been in practice for 13 years. He has been certified in the Mckenzie Method since 2005. He practices full time and is the Physical Therapy Director at Spine and Sports Medicine in midtown Manhattan.