Muscle and Function: Vastus Medialis Obliquus or VMO
“Tear Drop”, VMO, What Even Is It?
You may have heard of the muscle known as the ‘tear drop’. If you’ve been using this slang term it isn’t wrong, but the actual name of the muscle is the Vastus Medialis Obliquus,or VMO. Considering the muscle has such a long name, it is much easier to call it the VMO. The VMO is one of four muscles that make up the quadriceps. It is located on the inner side of the thigh; hence the name medial, which means that it’s situated toward the middle of the body. The VMO originates from the medial lip of the linea aspera and the intertrochanteric line of the femur. It inserts into the medial base of the patella and the tibial tuberosity by the patellar ligament.
Strengthen Your VMO
The VMO along with the other quadriceps muscles are responsible for extending the leg at the knee joint. The VMO also stabilizes and supports your patella, otherwise known as your kneecap. The VMO needs to be strong because it provides the medial force in stabilizing the patella. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome can be caused by abnormal tracking of the kneecap. A common symptom of PFPS is pain in the front of the knee. If the quadriceps muscles are imbalanced or weak, the kneecap will shift to one side of the trochlear groove. If the VMO is weak, the kneecap will shift towards the outside of the knee. Having balanced strength between the Vastus Lateralis and the VMO is vital to proper tracking of the patella.
An excellent exercise for strengthening the Vastus Medialis is the Leg Extension. Performing the Leg Extension in a full range of motion is necessary to activate the VMO. The VMO is fully activated in the last 20 degrees of the concentric phase of the leg extension (the extension of the knee). In the video below, you can see the Range of Motion needle on the exercise machine. The needle tracks the degrees that the leg is extending. The last 20 degrees of the extension is where you can really see the VMO contract. These slow repetitions allow for my muscles to do all of the work and not allowing momentum to assist me in the exercise. I’m able to minimize the volume of work that I perform, because I keep effort and intensity high while keeping good form and constant tension on the specific muscle. By overloading my muscles in the most efficient way possible, my body is forced to adapt and become stronger. The focus here is quality over quantity.