Your #1 Guide To VMO Muscle Pain

What is the VMO muscle?

VMO stands for vastus medialis oblique. It is one of the four muscle that make on the quadriceps, which is located at the front of the thighs. The VMO is the innermost muscle of the thighs. The VMO muscle has a teardrop shape. The function of the VMO is to help extend (straighten) the knee. However, the VMO works alongside the other muscles of the quadriceps (vastus lateralis, rectus femoris and vaster intermedius) to achieve this movement. 

Quadriceps tendonMedial side of the femur

What causes VMO muscle pain?

Pain may be felt within the knee or along the thigh and you may feel tightness or tenderness. This pain may be most apparent during activities such as walking, running, sitting/standing or exercises such as squats. 

Strains, tears, ruptures, tightness, or weakness can be the cause of your pain. A soft tissue occupational therapist will be able to correctly diagnosis the root cause of your VMO pain. 

VMO tightness or injury can also cause patellofemoral tracking disorder, which is when your kneecap does not track smoothly up and down when your leg bends or straightens. This is because your VMO is attached to your patella (kneecap) via the quadriceps tendon. Tightness within the VMO can pull on this tendon and therefore pull the kneecap out of place during movement. 

VMO muscle pain referrals

As shown in the diagram above, trigger points within the VMO can refer pain along the front of your inner thigh and inner knee. A trigger point is tightened area within your muscle fibres and may be very sensitive or painful to the touch. Trigger points may be more commonly referred to as muscle ‘knots’. A soft tissue occupational therapist will resolve this pain through the use of trigger point therapy. 

Managing pain

Here are some at-home strategies to help you manage your pain.

Heat therapy

Apply a heat pack to the inside area of your calf, below the knee. You can also take a hot shower, allowing the water to hit your lower legs, or take a warm bath. The heat allows your tight muscles to relax and increases blood circulation in the area to allow for healing and recovery. Heat therapy should be limited to 15-20 minutes at a time, as to not aggravate your skin too much and accidentally cause superficial burns. Avoid using ice as it reduces the healing response of the body and causes your muscles to tighten, potentially causing further damage. 

Quadriceps stretch

Stand next to something you can hold onto for balance, such as a chair, table or wall.

  • Balancing on one leg, bend your other leg so that your foot is almost touching your buttock.
  • Use one hand to hold your foot within a bend position against your buttock.
  • You should feel a stretch at the front of your thighs.
  • Hold this for a minimum of 30 seconds. Swap legs.

Soft tissue occupational therapy treatment

Soft tissue occupational therapy treatment focuses on treating musculoskeletal disorders of the body through diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. A soft tissue occupational therapist will be able to provide pain relief through hands-on treatments such as trigger point therapy or myofascial massage. They can also provide a strengthening program to prevent further injury. 

If you would like VMO muscle pain relief, book in to see a friendly Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist at Urban Health HQ. You can make an appointment today or contact us by calling 0411 563 391 or email 

Published by Urban Health HQ

We are a health and fitness centre offering Occupational Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Personal Training and Group Fitness classes.

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