VMO strength is your secret weapon for strong knees! VMO strength will ensure proper patellar (knee cap) alignment and knee tracking while your leg is extending (straightening out).
A strong VMO becomes even more important for women due to our naturally wider hips, which creates a wider Q angle.
Q Angle for Women
The femur (thigh bone) starts at the hip joint and goes down towards the knees. When the femur meets the lower leg bones to create the knee joint, it creates what we call a “Q angle.”
With the femur going into the knee from a wider point (wider hips), the Q angle becomes larger. The bigger the Q angle, the greater the risk for mal-tracking in knee joint.
You can think of a strong VMO helping in two major ways:
- The VMO sits right above the inside of the knee, so you can almost think of the VMO as a stopper for the diagonal line at which the femur some down to the knee joint.
- When the quadriceps (“vasti”) fire they should pull up on the knee cap evenly. A strong VMO will insure even pull on the medial side (inside) of the knee cap. Which is what most of us need these days with such tight IT bands on the lateral side (outside) of the knee cap!
What is the VMO?
The VMO stands for the Vastus Medialis Oblique. The Vastus Medialis is one of our Quadriceps muscles (the thick muscle on the front of the thigh). We learned about the hamstrings being 3 different muscles, here. The quadriceps are actually called “quad-” because they are made up of four muscles. Here is an image below.
*Note: the vastus intermedius shown on the other thigh in the image below because it is underneath the three muscles shown on the opposite thigh.
The vastus medialis is the most medial muscle of the four. The muscle goes down towards the knee and the muscle fibers start to get a little bit more diagonal, where we refer to the muscle as the oblique part. (Same reason your abdominal obliques are called “obliques,” because they are diagonal fibers.)
The BEST Exercises to Strengthen Your VMO
Through all my years of body movement, nothing has fired up the VMO quite as well as the Pilates Reformer. In the video below I demonstrate 4 footwork variations that will light up your VMO 🙂
Remember, to do ANY Pilates exercise correctly, the foundations MUST be applied to every. single. exercise. Here’s my free foundations course if you need to get up to speed.
After adding these exercises into your workout regularly, observe your VMO during other lower body exercises. You’ll want to be sure it is firing up during your classic footwork, lunges, squats, etc. to be sure you have stellar patellar tracking 😉