Exercises for Medial Quad Muscle

Your quadriceps, or quads, are a group of four muscles located on the front of the upper leg. The vastus medialis is the medial, or inside muscle. The muscles work together to create proper bio-mechanics of the leg and knee. Weakness of the vastus medialis is often indicated in knee pain and improper biomechanics. Without sufficient strength and proper firing of this muscle, the patella, known as the kneecap, may pull to the outside. This is called lateral tracking. Strengthening of the vastus medialis and ensuring that there is proper firing, or contraction of the muscle, is important for this reason.

Vastus Medialis Isolation

To train this muscle, it is important that you first isolate it. This muscle is often referred to as the tear drop muscle and is on the inside of your upper leg, near the knee. Sitting with your leg straight in front of you, place a pillow or rolled towel under the knee so that it is slightly bent. Slowly contract or squeeze your leg muscles. Do this several times and place your fingers on the inside muscle. Gently, contract the muscle, attempting to make just this muscle contract or quiver. You can also practice this sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor.

Open Chain Exercise

Open chain exercises are those that are done in a non weight-bearing position. A straight leg raise with about 30 degrees of external or outward rotation is a good beginning exercise. This should be done while in a supine position, either lying flat, or propped up on your elbows. Begin with one set of 10 and progress to three sets of 10 as you are comfortably able. Another open chain exercise is called the short arc quad. The starting position is about 30 degrees of knee flexion or bend, created by placing a pillow or towel beneath the knee. From this position, slowly straighten the knee into full extension. Begin with one set, increasing to three sets as tolerated. Begin the last exercise in a seated position with the leg bent to 90 degrees and rotated outwardly about 20 degrees. Straighten the leg half way, or 45 degrees. This may be done without weight, with ankle weights or on a leg extension machine, depending on your starting strength. A progression of one set to three sets can again be followed as strength increases. If you experience pain during any exercise, discontinue immediately.

Closed Chain Exercise

Closed chain exercise is an effective method for functional strengthening of the vastus medialis muscle. These exercises can be implemented whenever you have adequate strength to allow for the completion of exercise without pain. An extremely effective closed chain exercise is the heel drop or step down. Standing on a step with both feet, slowly lower one foot toward the ground. Maintain a knee-over-toe position with the weight-bearing leg at all times. Partial lowering may be done if pain is experienced with the full step-down. Begin with one set of 10 repetitions and increase to three as your tolerance increases. The lunge is another effective strengthener. Standing with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, step forward with one foot, and slowly lower into 60 to 90 degrees of knee flexion. Continue to make sure that the knee is over the toe, rather than falling to the inside or outside. If you cannot perform a full 60 degrees without pain, you may adjust with a partial lunge of 30 to 45 degrees. It is imperative that you avoid any knee pain. The last exercise to be addressed for specific strengthening is the single foot 1/4 squat. For this exercise you will stand on one foot, and slowly lower to about 60 degrees of knee flexion. During this exercise, maintain the toe-over-knee position. Begin with one set of 10 and increase to three sets. Do all the above exercises with both legs.

About this Author

Kristi Stephens is a certified athletic trainer with a degree in Physical Education with a coaching concentration as well as a Family Life and Human Sexuality. She has a massage therapy certification as well as having had several certifications in personal training. She has worked in the realm of high school and college athletic training, has coached a variety of sports, and has owned and operated a personal training and massage therapy business.