The vastus lateralis is a muscle that is located on the lateral or the outside part of the thigh. Our body is made up of hundreds of muscles, quadriceps is one of the largest muscles of the body.
Quadriceps are made up of the four main muscles and these muscles can hold you up and help you to move. That’s why these muscles are important for the body.
Keep reading this blog to know about the vastus lateralis.
Where Is The Vastus Lateralis?
The vastus lateralis muscle located on the side of the thigh. Vastus lateralis is one of the largest muscle of the quadriceps muscle group. It also includes the vastus intermedius, the vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis.
The quadriceps are one of the largest muscles in the human body and it helps to extend the knee. The vastus lateralis muscles can help to extend the lower leg and allow the body to rise up from the squatting position.
The Upper end of the vastus lateralis muscle attaches with the femur and the lower end attaches with the patella or the kneecap.
These muscles of the legs allow stability and strength. It also provides power for and it absorbs the impact of daily activities such as jumping, walking, and running.
The vastus lateralis is the recommended site for the intramuscular injection in infants who are less than 7 months old and unable to walk with the loss of muscular tone.
Before knowing the structure of vastus lateralis muscles, let’s know about the quadriceps functions and the muscles of the thigh.
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How Many Muscles Does Thigh Contain?
The muscles of the thigh are split into three sections including posterior, medical, and anterior. This part has a distinct function and innervation.
The thigh muscles in the anterior compartment which innervates by the femoral nerve and as a general rule, it can help to extend the leg at the knee joint.
In the anterior thigh, there are three major muscles including sartorius, the pectineus, and quadriceps femoris.
In addition to these, the iliopsoas muscle end can pass into the anterior compartment in the thigh Here are the attachments, innervations, actions, and correlations of these muscles.
The iliopsoas is actually two muscles such as psoas major and the iliacus. The iliopsoas is the inner hip muscle whose function is to flex the thigh at the hip joint. It is a large muscle that composes of the union of two individual muscles.
The iliopsoas muscle takes its name from the names of these two muscles. The iliopsoas is the Chiefflexor of the hip joint and it also stabilizes the trunk due to its expensive attachments.
The bellies of these muscles lie in the posterior abdominal wall and the greater pelvis. They get merge together because they can pass to the inguinal ligament into the anterior compartment of the thighs.
Origin and Insertion of Iliopsoas
The psoas major is the long muscle that is located in the vertebral column. It is found in the space between the bodies and the spinous processes of the vertebrae.
Iliopses is an extensive proximal attachment to the sides of the T12-L4 vertebrae and the intervertebral discs are separating it. It also attaches to the transverse process of all the lumbar vertebrae.
The variation of psoas major is very common. The muscle descends is along the pelvic brim and enters the anterior thigh by passing posterior to the inguinal ligaments.
While the iliacus is a triangular-shaped muscle. It mainly forms from the superior two-thirds of the iliac fossa, lateral sacrum and the iliac.
The iliacus also originates from the iliolumbar ligaments and sacroiliac which connect these parts of the pelvis and vertebral column.
It also passee anteriorly in the iliac fossa as far as the anterior superior and anterior inferior iliac spines.
The fibers of iliacus merge with the most lateral fibers of the psoas major. The newly formed iliopsoas muscle passes anterior to the capsule of the hip joints and its insertion onto the lesser trochanter of the femur.
The Iliopsoas get separate from the hip joint by the large subtendinous iliac bursa. That sometimes communicates with the joint cavity.
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The psoas major originates from the lumbar vertebrae while the iliacus originates from the iliac fossa of the pelvis.
These both muscles insert together on the lesser trochanter of the femur.
The iliopsoas can flex the thigh at the hip joint.
The iliopsoas innervation comes from the lumbar plexus. Psoas major innervate by the ventral rami of the lumbar spinal nerves, mainly L1 and L2, But with some contribution from L3. Iliacus inverters by branches of the femoral nerves.
Iliopsoas can give the flexes and it also externally rotates the thigh from the hip joint. Iliopsoas also flexes the trunk at the hip joint, such as the motion of sit-ups exercise.
The psoas major parts of the iliopsoas laterally can flex the trunk. And the iliopsoas muscle is also a postural muscle. In the symmetrical upright stance, Iliopsoas maintains the normal lumbar lordosis during the standing position.
Indirectly the compensatory kyphosis of the thoracic vertebral column. The iliopsoas is the antagonist of the gluteus maximus muscle in the gluteal region and the hamstring muscles in the posterior thigh.
2. Quadriceps Femoris
The quadriceps femoris is the grouper of muscles that locate in the anterior compartment of the thigh. This muscle is a great extensor of the knee joint and it forms the bulk of the anterior thigh.
It covers almost all of the anterior, both lateral and the medial sides of the femur bone. The quadriceps femoris muscle is an extremely powerful muscle group.
This muscle is also essential for the motions, such as jumping, running, and climbing. They also flex the thigh at the knee joint and stabilize the patella during any movement.
The name of quadriceps femoris means the four-headed femoral muscles. That’s why it contains four individual muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis.
All the muscles of the quadriceps muscles group converge to form the common tendon. The quadriceps tendon becomes continuous with the patellar ligament.
All four muscles of quadriceps are the powerful extension of the knee joint. These muscles are crucial in squatting, jumping, running, and walking.
Because the rectus femoris is attached with the ilium and it can also flexor of the hip. This action is also crucial for the running or walking because it swings the leg into the ensuing step.
In the group of the quadriceps muscle, specifically, the vastus medialis plays an important role in the body because it stabilizes the patella and the knee joint during the gait.
It is the main extensor of the knee. The quadriceps is divided into four separate muscles these are:
1. Vastus Lateralis
Vastus lateralis is the largest part of the muscle of the quadriceps femoris group. It forms the bulk of the lateral thigh.
The vastus lateralis originates from the upper part of the intertrochanteric line, the inferior and anterior borders of the greater trochanter, the lateral lip of the gluteal tuberosity, and also the proximal half of the vastus lateral muscle lip of the linea Aspera.
The fiber converges to the vastus lateralis on a flat tendon which inserts onto the base and the lateral aspect of the patella. It also gets blend with the fibers of the quadriceps tendon. Then it goes on to inserts on the tibial tuberosity via the patellar ligament.
The vastus lateralis is also attaching to the anterior aspect of the lateral condyle of the femur bone. The vastus lateralis is proximally covered by the fascia lata. Also the attachments of the gluteus maximus muscles, and the tensor fasciae latae.
The vastus intermedius muscles lie medial into it. All the branches of the femoral nerve and the lateral circumflex femoral artery which is located between the two muscles.
The posteriorly lateral intermuscular septum separates it from the biceps femoris in the posterior compartment of the thigh. The vastus lateralis muscles that innervate by the branches of the femoral nerve.
The blood supply of the vastus lateralis occurs by the branches of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and also the first perforating branches of the profundal femoris artery
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Proximal Attachment: It originates from the greater trochanter and the lateral lip of the linea Aspera.
Actions: It can help to extend the knee joints and also stabilizes the patella.
Innervation: femoral nerve.
The vastus intermedius muscle id arises from the anterior and also the lateral surface of the proximal of the two- thirds of the femoral shaft and also from the distal part of the lateral intermuscular septum. The fibers of the muscles form an aponeurosis which forms the deep part of the quadriceps tendon.
The vastus intermedius is also attached to the lateral aspect of the patella and the lateral condyle of the tibia.
The vastus medialis and the vastus intermedius appear to fuse together, But they are separate from each other by a narrow cleft that can extend superiorly from the medial border of the patella.
When sometimes as far up as the intertrochanteric crest. The vastus intermedius muscle is entirely covered by the quadriceps femoris muscles.
It is also laterally that part of this muscle which is superficial to the vastus lateralis muscle. The vastus intermedius muscle is innervated by the branches of the femoral nerve.
This muscle gets the blood supply from the branches of the profunda femoris artery. The venous drainage happens by the venae comitantes and to the profunda femoris vein.
Proximal attachment: Lateral surfaces and anterior of the femoral shaft.
Actions: It helps to extend the knee joint and also stabilizes the patella in the body.
Innervation: Femoral nerve
Vastus medialis covers most of the medical aspects of the tumor. These muscles originate from the lower part of the intertrochanteric line, the medial lip of the linea aspera, the spiral line, the medial intermuscular septum, and the proximal part of the medial supracondylar line.
Vastus medialis muscle fibers can pass inferiorly and anteriorly, becoming aponeurosis. It also inserts onto the medial aspect of the quadriceps and patella. It can also attach to the anterior aspect of the medial condyle of the femur.
The lower fiber of this muscle is almost horizontally oriented and it can leave the clearly distinguishable surface features medial to the superior half of the patella.
This can sometimes individually refer to the vastus medialis obliquus. The vastus medialis muscle is part deep to the sartorius muscles and the rectus femoris. It also forms the medial wall of the adductor canal into the middle part of the thigh.
This muscle is innervated by the femoral nerve and it also produces by the extension of the leg from the knee joint. This muscle gets the blood supply by the middle, superior and inferior branches of the superficial branch of the femoral artery.
It also gets blood by the minor branches of the profunda femoris and the genicular arteries. The venous drainage of this muscle occurs by the venae comitantes to the popliteal vein and profunda femoris via the genicular veins.
Proximal attachments: The medial lip and the intertrochanteric line of the linea aspera.
Actions: Vastus medialis helps to extend the knee joint and stabilizes the patella. Due to the vastus medialis horizontal fibers at the distal end.
Innervation: Femoral nerve.
3. Rectus Femoris
The rectus femoris muscle is the only muscle of the quadriceps femoris group that crosses both the knee joints and hip. It is a fusiform muscle which means the belly of the muscle tapers into the narrow tendon on both ends.
This muscle has two points of the origin and the two heads from the anterior inferior iliac spine. Also from the groove on the ilium above the acetabulum. Proximally, the rectus femoris muscle fibers are the superficial to the capsule of the hip joint, vastus intermedius.
Also, the anterior borders of the medialis muscles and vastus lateralis, the lateral circumflex femoral artery, and also the branches of the femoral nerve.
The distal fibers of the rectus femoris muscles end as a flat aponeurosis that narrows into the thick flat tendon that can insert onto the base of the patella. It also forms the superficial central parts of the quadriceps tendon.
The Origin And Insertion
As I mentioned before the rectus femoris which crosses both the knee joint and hip, that’s why it acts at both of these joints.
The rectus femoris can produce the flexion of the thigh at the hip joint and it also helps in the extension of the leg from the knee joint. Thus this muscle sometimes refers to as the kicking muscle.
The proximal part of this muscle is covered by the tensor fasciae late, the sartorius muscles, and the iliacus. The vasti muscles can capsule of the hip joint and the lateral circumflex femoral artery.
The branches of the femoral nerve are located deep into the rectus femoris muscles. The rectus femoris muscle can be innervated by the femoral nerve. The blood supply of the rectus femoris muscle comes from the artery of the quadriceps, which is the branch of the profunda femoris artery.
It also includes the contributions from the lateral circumflex humeral artery. The venous drainage of the rectus femoris muscle is come by the venae comitantes of the accompanying veins of the arteries.
These are the form part of the deep venous drainage of the lower limbs. The venous return from is the rectus femoris muscle of the profunda femoris vein, which turns the drains to the femoral vein.
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This originates from the anterior inferior iliac spine and also the area of the ilium immediately superior to the acetabulum. It also helps to runs straight down the leg and it can attach to the patella via to the quad muscle.
Rectus femoris is the only muscle of the quadriceps that cross both the knee joints and the hip. It also flexes the thigh from the hip joint and it also extends at the knee joints.
All the four muscles of the quadriceps muscles are ultimately inserted into the tuberosity of the tibia via the patella, where the quadriceps tendon becomes the patellar ligament.
In the quadriceps complex, there is also short small muscle is called the articularis genus which is often included. Also, one study has confirmed the presence of a sixth muscle, the tensor vastus intermedius.
While the muscle has the variable presentations, it consistently originates at the proximal femur. It also runs between the vastus intermedius muscles and vastus lateralis.
The sartorius muscle is also the longest muscle in the human body. Like the quadriceps femoris, it also belongs to the anterior muscle of the thigh.
The sartorius muscle has an oblique course that goes throughout the thigh. It also arises from the anterior superior iliac spine which crosses to the media side of the thigh.
It finally inserts to the medial side of the proximal tibia. Because of the oblique course, the sartorius muscle does not extend the thigh, that would be expected from a muscle of the anterior compartment.
Instead of this the sartorius muscle flexes externally rotates the thigh, abducts, flexes, and also internally rotates the leg.
Origin and insertion
The sartorius muscle originates by a round tendon from the anterior superior iliac spine and also the upper half of the notch. It also originates between the anterior inferior iliac spine and the anterior superior iliac spine.
The fibers of sartorius muscle form thin and flat muscles that extend inferomedially across the anterior surface of the thigh. This muscle descends in an almost the vertical fashion throughout the medial aspects of the thigh.
Sartorius muscle also crossed the medial side of the knee joint, then it inserts onto the medial aspect of the proximal tibia semitendinosus muscles and the anterior to the gracilis. The insertion tendon of all these three muscles from a wide aponeurotic sheath is called the pes anserinus.
Some fibers of the inferior part of the tendon blend with the medial collateral ligament of the knee joint and the deep fascia over the medial aspect of the leg. While some other superior fibers that blend with the knee joint capsule.
These connections of the muscle also contribute to the medical stability of the knee joints.
The sartorius muscle appears superficially in the thigh, with only skin and the facia overt its surfaces. The sartorius muscle is deep to the quadriceps femoris muscle.
Because it crosses from the lateral to the medial side of the thigh. The sartorius muscles are also crosse from the surfaces of the pectineus, adductor longus muscles, and iliopsoas.
The tensor fasciae latae muscle also originates just lateral to the proximal attachments of the sartorius muscles. The sartorius medical edges form the lateral border of an important anatomical space which is known as the femoral triangle.
This triangle is complete superiorly by the medially and the inguinal ligament by the medial margin of the adductor of longus muscle. The structures of this muscle are found within the triangle, which includes nerve, vein, and femoral artery.
Therefore it lies medial to the sartorius muscle. The femoral artery continues inferiorly and deep to the sartorius muscles.
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As you know that the sartorius muscle crosses both the knee joints and hip, so it will produce the movement of both of them. At the hip joint, this muscle is capable of flexion, external rotation, and abduction of the leg.
The contraction of the sartorius muscle is also the cause of the flexion of the knee joint and the inward or the medial rotations of the tibia are against the femur.
All the combination of these movements can help you to sit in a cross-legged position. The movement creates by the contraction of the sartorius does not limit to the single function. The sartorius muscle also plays an important role in climbing.
The sartorius muscles receive their innervation from the femoral nerve L2 and L3.
As I mentioned before the sartorius muscle is the longest muscle. That’s why it requires an extensive blood supply.
- The proximal third can receive their vascular supply from the branches of the femoral, lateral circumflex femoral, and the deep femoral arteries. Or they receive the blood supply by the branch of either the deep femoral or it gets from the lateral circumflex.
- The middle third blood is supply by the branches of the femoral artery.
- While the distal third receives the blood supply from the descending genicular artery and the femoral artery.
The pectineus is the flat muscle that is found in the superomedial part of the anterior thigh. All the fascial compartment of the thigh muscles are specific in each of them and they are innervated by the particular nerves.
Thus, having the dual innervation, pectineus is one of a few muscles that are classified into the two compartments at the same time such as medial and anterior.
The others are being adductor Magnus and adductor longus. For the purposes of didactic, the pectineus describes together with the five muscles of the medial compartment of the thigh.
These five muscles are adductor longus, adductor Magnus, adductor brevis, and the gracilis. These muscles comprise the functional group of the thigh adductors.
Besides the adduction of the thigh, the pectineus functions include the additional movements of the thigh flexion, internal rotation, and the external rotations.
Pectineus is not only a prime mover but it also a postural muscle because it stabilizes the pelvis and the balance of the trunk on the lower extremity while walking.
The Origin And Insertion
The pectineus is the short quadrangular muscle that extends from the pubis to the are just bolero of the lesser trochanter of the femur.
It is the most superior attachment of all the thigh adductors, which originate from the pectineal line of the pubis on the superior pubic ramus.
This muscle then slides over the superior margin of the superior pubic ramus and the course can posterolaterally down the thigh. Sometimes it partially divided into the larger superficial layer and the smaller deep layer.
These layers adhere to each other but they are innervated by the different nerves. The pectineus muscle inserts into the posterior surface of the femur and it along with the pectineal line and the proximal part of the linea aspera.
These both lines continue with each other. The pectineal line is continuous inferiorly from the intertrochanteric line and it ends by fusing with the spiral line of the femur. Thus these lines are forming the medial lip of linea aspera.
The pectineus muscle lies in the pale as, and medial to the adductor longus. It is also related to the psoas major muscle, vein, and medial circumflex femoral artery.
The anterior surface of the pectineus forms the medial part of the floor of femoral triangles together with the adductor longus. While the psoas major and the iliacus can complete the lateral side of the floor.
The deep layer of the fascia lata covers this surface of the pectineus muscle, which can separate them from the femoral artery. It also separates it from the great saphenous vein and the femoral vein which course through the femoral triangle.
The posterior to pectineus is also the adductor Magnus, obturator externus, and the adductor brevis muscles and the anterior branch of obturator nerves. The fascia lata peripherally can bound the posterior and the anterior thigh compartments.
These two are internally separate by the lateral and medial intermuscular septa which are attached to the femur. Although the medial compartment which belongs to the pectineus doesn’t have their own fascial border that separates it from the posterior and the anterior compartments.
That’s why it is still described separately due to the common muscular innervation and function of its constituents.
Pectineus is predominately innervated by the femoral nerve. In some people, the pectineus can receive the innervation from the two separate nerves of the lumbar plexus.
This composite innervation of the pectineus can reflect the dual compartmentalization into both the medical and the anterior compartments of the thigh.
In these cases, the anterior part of the pectineus muscle sits is innervated by the femoral nerve. Also the features of this muscle of the anterior thigh.
While the smaller part of the posterior muscle is supplied by the branch of the obturator nerve and the accessory obturator nerve.
In the superficial part of the pectineus muscle blood supply by the medial circumflex femoral artery and the branch of the femoral artery.
While in the deep portion of the pectineus muscle is vascularised by the anterior branch of the obturator artery and itself a branch of the internal iliac artery.
Because of the course of its fibers, the pectineus both the adducts and flexes the thigh from the hip joint when it contracts. When the lower limb is in the anatomical position than the contraction of the muscle.
Firstly it causes the flexion to occur at the hip joint. That’s why this flexion can go as far as the thigh is at a 45-degree angle to the hip joint.
At this point, the angulation of the pectineus fiber is such that the contracted muscle fibers are now pulling the thigh toward the middle and it produces the thigh adduction.
An example of a sequential movement that involves the both actions of the pectineus muscle is crossing your legs at the ankle or knee. The hip flexion solely is an action that can be in synergy with the iliacus, psoas major, sartorius, and the rectus femoris.
This will enable them to carry through the phase of the gait cycle. Some other sources can also state that the pectineus muscle can contribute to the internal and external rotation of the thigh.
But this is still debate, although the pectineus is lateral to the midline, beyond the mechanical axis of the rotation of the femur, it also suggests that there could be some merit to the argument.
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Vastus Lateralis Origin And Anatomy
The vastus lateralis muscle originates on the upper intertrochanteric line of the femur. This muscle also arises from the base of the greater trochanter, supracondylar ridge, the lateral intermuscular septum, and the linea aspera.
From the origin, the vastus lateralis courses down the lateral thighs and it also inserts as the part of the lateral quadriceps tendon on the tibial tubercle. The vastus lateralis is a flat structure and it also has many attachments with the flat aponeurosis on the lateral thigh.
Vastus lateralis nerve innervation is with the femoral nerve that arises from the lumbar level L2, L3, and L4. the blood supply of the vastus lateralis muscle is via the lateral circumflex femoral artery.
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Vastus Lateralis Function
The vastus lateralis muscle works with the other quad muscle to straighten and extend the knee.
The vastus lateralis functional activities are running, walking, rising up from the sitting position, and climbing the stairs, these all accomplish with the quad muscle.
Vastus lateralis muscle is along with the iliotibial band and it also helps to form the lateral wall of the thigh. From the inner portion of the thigh, the vastus lateralis can directly oppose the vastus medialis muscle.
Vatus medialis and vastus lateralis is work together to maintain the appropriate position of the kneecap in the femoral groove of the thigh bone. Failure of these muscles to function properly can lead to knee pain from the patellofemoral stress syndrome.
Vastus Lateralis Associated Conditions
The strain on the muscle can cause the vastus lateralis tear. Some many injuries and conditions may affect the vastus lateralis. These injuries are starting with a small tear and ends with a complete rupture.
Most of the tear of the vastus lateralis causes by the activity that is done without a proper warm-up. So the vastus lateralis muscle does not have time to stretch out before use and can tear.
The pain that occurs after the trauma, such as getting the hit with a ball is likely to cause bruise or contusion.
Here are some injuries or conditions or vastus lateralis:
1. Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome: This vastus lateralis occurs when the kneecap tracks improperly in the femoral groove of the knee joint. These conditions can lead to knee pain and difficulty in walking and running.
2. Vastus lateralis strain: the sudden force to the thigh may cause the quad muscle to be a strain. This can cause pain and swell in the vastus lateralis muscle. The bruising of the thigh may limit the ability to walk normally.
3. Patella tendinitis: The irritation of the quad tendon which coursed over the knee cap can cause the patellar tendinitis.
4. Weakness due to the femoral nerve compression: When the femoral nerve may become pinch or it gets irritated because of the lumbar stenosis, a herniated disc or arthritis. When this can occurs then it causes tingling pain, numbness, or weakness in the thigh.
5. Iliotibial band friction syndrome: The iliotibial band occurs down the lateral thigh next to the vastus lateralis. Sometimes the band becomes irritated due to thigh or weak muscles. So, the vastus lateralis muscle maybe gets implicated in this condition.
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Vastus Lateralis Rehabilitation
The injury to vastus lateralis or quad muscles can cause pain, the swelling of the thigh, or limited walking ability. There are various types of treatments available that can help you to recover after a vastus lateralis injury.
Working with the physical therapist which is helpful when rehabbing vastus lateralis injuries These are:
1. Hot And Cold Therapy For Vastus lateralis Muscle Injury
In the first few days after the injury, you can apply the ice on your lateral thigh to control the pain. It also decreases the swelling and inflammation of the muscle.
Apply the ice on the affecting area for 10 to 15 minutes but also take care to avoid the frost burns. After the 2 or 3 days of injury, you can switch to heat and promote the blood circulation in the thigh.
It also improves tissue mobility in the vastus lateralis muscle. Apply the heat on the muscle for 10 to 15 minutes and also avoid the burns.
2. Massage For Vastus Lateralis
Massage may be useful after having the quad muscle or vastus lateralis injury because it can help to decrease the pain and promote circulation.
This treatment can improve tissue mobility to the stretching and help to improve the quadriceps motion.
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3. Vastus lateralis Muscle Stretching
After the vastus lateralis injury, the quad muscle stretching can improve the mobility and function of the muscle group. These include:
- The Half kneeling quad muscle and hip flexor stretch: For doing this stretch, just kneel down on the knee in a genuflect position. Then slowly move the body forward and then the stretch is felt in the front of the thigh or hip. Gently hold this position for 30 seconds then relax back. Repeat this action 3 times.
- Prone Towel Quad Muscle Stretch: Lie on your stomach and place the towel around the ankle. After that gently blend the knee-up and pull on the towel to bend the knee fully. So the pulling sensation is felt in the front of the thigh, After that hold the stretch for 30 seconds then release. Repeat this three times.
4. Back Exercise For Vastus Lateralis
If the femoral nerve irritation comes from the low back then it causes pain on thighs or weakness. So doing some exercise can be helpful for you. These exercises are:
- Supine lumbar Flexion
- Prone press-ups
- The Lumbar side glide exercise
5. Strengthening Exercises For Vastus Lateralis
The vastus lateralis and quad muscle weakness may cause the injury, so the strengthening exercise is useful during rehab. This exercise includes:
- Leg extension exercises
- Straight leg raises
- Hip Strengthening exercise
When To See A Doctor
If you are having pain or difficulty in walking due to the quadriceps muscle weakness, then you should immediately consult the physician and get an accurate diagnosis. The physician can diagnose the condition and also guide you for the recovery.
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