September Muscle of the Month:
Next up on our tour of the quadriceps is the vastus medialis. This is the innermost quadriceps muscle and is located medial (towards the middle) and superiorly (upward) of our knee. This is the “teardrop” muscle that you see to the inside of your kneecap when you flex your quads. This is the only muscle that actually attaches to the kneecap to keep our knee joint in alignment. Without it, we would not be able to walk, and Frodo would have never made it all the way to Mordor, but that is a tale for another time.
The vastus medialis is also used when extending your knees. If you have issues locking out your knees during squats, deadlifts, or box jumps, one culprit may be a weak vastus medialis (among other things). With this also comes a plethora of knee pain issues, since it is directly connected to your kneecap. For many of us, the vastus lateralis (we’ll meet this guy next month) is stronger which creates an imbalance around the knee. Do you walk with your feet excessively pointed outward instead of parallel? If you answered, yes, this might be you.
To strengthen the vastus medialis, we can perform squats with a narrow stance and our heels touching and elevated by a couple inches. I recommend low weight with high reps, something like 3 sets of 20 with 20% of your 1RM back squat; you should notice a deep burn in the vastus medialis area after about 7-10 reps.