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Kneeding Stability? Knee Problems Can Be Thwarted With Proper Knee Care

Aug 21, 2008
Knee problems are a nuisance for athletes and non-athletes. With proper care including stability exercise and proper techniques when using your knees for other exercise can mean the difference between pain and immobility OR getting on with your life and having fun.

Exercises designed to impart proper stability include strengthening the vastus medialis oblique (VMO), this muscle if part of the quadriceps muscles on the inner part of the knee. It is very small, about the size of a finger or less. The VMO runs beside the patella or knee-cap as it is commonly known.

How does the VMO Work?
The VMO are more oblique than their counterparts in the vastus medialis. This stem from the adductor muscles, (a muscle inside your thigh responsible for keeping your legs in line with your body.) This joins with other quadriceps muscles at a tendon that then encircles your patella. The VMO tendon inserts itself through a small opening on your shin bone. (The tibia.) These tender small muscles are protected by the knee cap which rides in front of them on a loose movable sac like area.

Your VMO is a very active and main contributor for keeping your knee joint stable and in place. Without out your joint would slide out of place every time you moved your legs. In healthy people with a strong and well exercised VMO the fibres are healthy and pain free. In people with unhealthy muscle fibres in the contract phase, when the muscles tighten to improve stability through continuous movement they contract inconsistently and become fatigued quite easily. This is usually referred to as Patello-Femoral Knee Pain. (Chondromalacia Patella).

The main role is, therefore, for the VMO to keep the joint behind the patella in its proper position throughout all ranges of motion for the individual. Those with a malfunctioning VMO, or improperly used VMO can experience mal-tracking of the patella and joint. In addition to pain, swelling, and loss of motion; underlying damage can occur with bad long term results.

The inner groove for the VMO helps keep the knee from twisting out of place when using the inner and outer thigh muscles. The main trouble then comes from an improperly used or improperly exercised VMO. Physical therapists see many injuries each year from athletes and non-athletes because of weak and misused VMO.

How Do You Actively Strengthen the VMO?
Knees are a very vital part of the stricture of the human body. They are responsible for most the motion we do each day to live out our lives. We use them to sit, jump, stand, walk, run, squat, and various other motions. If the knees are not properly balanced and all the muscles in them properly exercised we will see all kinds of problems with the body, including foot and back pain.

Split Lunges, deep squats, and other exercises that engage this tiny muscle should be performed regularly in order to maintain a well functioning knee. Be sure to find a physician to physical therapist who can instruct you properly. Performing deep knee squats, and deep lunges where your knee touches the ground helps engage this muscle more thoroughly.

You can find a few exercises on the internet as well as tests to help you determine if an underdeveloped VMO if the real underlying cause for your knee pain. To test the strength of your VMO sit on the floor with your legs extended and place a rolled up towel behind them. Now place your fingers over the VMO and press your knee against the towel until your leg straightens. If you feel a tug and a slight bulge in this area, your VMO works.

Deep squats past 90 degrees will help activate and fire the VMO muscles. Make sure that your form is correct with your back straight and your head looking forwards. Also, split lunges will also activate the VMO. Make sure that your trainer/therapist is well informed on proper techniques. Properly performed exercises can help you alleviate your knee pain for good and help you have more stability in all your daily activities.
About the Author
Dr. Vasili Gatsinaris is a native of Southern California who graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of California Irvine and received his doctorate from Los Angeles Chiropractic College. Gatsinaris is the Founder of Next Level Wellness Center in Irvine.
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