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Does Knee Pain Actually Get Better From THIS Exercise?

sandbag training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration Certification, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knees, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)

corrective exercise

We have done quite a few posts about the VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique is one of four quadriceps muscles), as for some reason people are back trying to isolate individual muscles again. Something I thought the health and fitness industry was moving away from but I was wrong. So here we are again, talking about the VMO or I should say quadriceps for more general terms.
knee pain
I keep seeing exercises pop up over and over again in the fitness industry that I use as a physical therapist but never would I think to see in a gym and general fitness setting. I could talk about a lot of different exercises I see actually but lets talk about one in particular. The TKE (terminal knee extension) exercise. I keep seeing this over and over and it really throws me for a loop.
strong knees

Not that you asked but it throws me for a loop because it’s such an isolated exercise. Typically used for post surgical knee patients working on getting back their full range of motion and starting to do more weight bearing exercises. I never would have thought to see it in someone’s programming for general fitness. But it’s all over the “gram” as a new exercise you need to do for building strong knees.

Terminal knee extension is really just trying to isolate the quad and work on knee extension. Yes, that is something that a lot of people need to focus on when rehabbing after a surgery or severe injury but not something I would program for my general pop client or someone wishing to just build strong knees that didn’t have surgery.

So if you have a normal range of motion in your knee and have not had surgery your focus should be on more of an integrated approach to strengthening. Looking at the body as a whole and not such individuated compartments like just the quad. It should be focused on how the quad works with the rest of the muscles in the chain.

Not only is it my opinion, but those of researchers in papers like this one (you can read HERE) that explicitly state that trying to isolate the quad muscles is not something we should really focus upon in a rehab setting. I want to emphasize, it was suggested to NOT focus on the VMO in rehab, which means in training it seems even more futile to try to do such a thing and doesn’t solve our knee issues either.

If we are trying to specially work on improving knee pain, we have talked about this before, we need to make sure we have good foot/ankle mobility, good hip mobility, and good core strength. All these things contribute to issues at the knee. Focusing on these things will not only help your knees but your overall strength and mobility so a bigger bang for your buck than trying to isolate individual muscles and not get anywhere with your training. 

So what does it look like when we take a more integrated approach? 

Below I show exactly we discussed above, incorporating that ankle mobility, core strength and all that good stuff: 

Find out more in Jessica’s DVRT Rx Knee Course and more that you can save 25% off on along with all our online programs and Ultimate Sandbags with code “dvrt25” HERE

These 3 DVRT drills that I show below place heavy emphasis on not just treating the feet or hips individually either, but connecting them in a way they work together.

Again below showing how to incorporate everything we talked to about for healthier knees…

Again below showing how to incorporate everything we talked to about for healthier knees…