What the chuff is a VMO?
VMO stands for vastus medialis oblique and is part of the vastus medialis quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh. The position of the vastus medialis oblique is just above and to the inside of the knee cap. The fibres of VMO have a more oblique alignment than the other fibres of vastus medialis. It arises from the tendon of adductor magnus muscle and converges to join the other quadriceps muscles inserting via the patella tendon, to the tibial tuberosity at the top of the tibia shin bone.
Here’s a picture:
Often times, recurring knee pain can be improved through exercises designed to strengthen this muscle as it has a significantly stabilising effect on the movement of the knee joint and so reducing pain/discomfort that comes from weakness in the muscles or joint itself. You might have noticed that footballers generally have very developed VMOs as part of very strong quads due to their sport specific adaptations/training.
So it’s worth knowing that, generally speaking, the stronger the muscles are surrounding a joint, the more stable/functional the joint is and the less likelihood of discomfort/pain.
VMO Exercises – 4 sets of 10-12 reps 3-4 x p/week
Here are three exercises you can try to specifically strengthen your VMO in the hope of avoiding and reducing knee pain:
1) Squat – advanced
Teaching points: Tight abs, chest up, bum out, back straight and feet angled out to hit the VMO
2) Fit Ball Squat – beginner
Teaching points: Rest back on a Fit ball, Tight abs, chest up, slowly squat allowing ball to move up your back knees not over end of toes, feet angled out to hit VMO
3) Leg Extensions
Teaching points: fast upward phase, slow downward phase, feet angled out to hit VMO
4) Leg Press
Teaching points: don’t fully lock knees on extension, feet angled out to hit VMO