Ball Squeezing for Grumpy Quads? GQ12

 
 
Uh ohhh look out...  this one might mess with a few heads because a "sacred cow" is being threatened ….and this one is controversial! Friends, we are talking about whether or not to squeeze a ball together between the knees during squat to help with knee pain. Many fitness and health professionals swear by this.

Research was done in the early 1990’s that kickstarted the idea that co-contraction of the hip adductors and knee extensors may elicit greater VMO activation, as apparently the majority of VMO’s fibers arise from the tendon of adductor magnus. Indeed, this has been previously researched with some encouraging results… whilst other have shown no effect at all.

Personally I stopped using the ball-between-the knees squeeze in the early 2000’s, and then in 2012 came across this research review article by The Sports Physiotherapist, which helped me understand it further. Read it here: “ Facilitating VMO Activation with Isometric Hip Adduction” (blog posted in 2012 by the group at The Sports Physiotherapist).

The simple counter argument is that excessive hip adduction, flexion and internal rotation have always been understood to accompany patellofemoral pain, so why reinforce this movement? Who needs to fire up the adductors - rather we should follow the research and loop a band around the knees to activate Gluteus Medius and the lateral rotators of the hip. 
Have a peek at this 2017 research paper to understand it more: "Looped Band Placed Around Thighs Increases EMG of Gluteal Muscles Without Hindering Performance During Squatting”
The findings of this research suggest that looped bands around the distal lateral portion of the thigh lead to:
  • increased EMG amplitude of the gluteal muscle group;
  • no change in hamstring or quadriceps EMG amplitude (NB: Vastus Lateralis - no EMGs were used on VMO); and
  • may have a small positive benefit in squat performance - increased REPS were noted with looped band but not significant statistically.
It seems there are certain situations that squeezing the ball does seem to help Grumpy Knees (which is just enough to convince the faithful to keep using it), even though now we accept that it does more harm than good for most knees.

I also believe the VMO is activated by this technique, but let’s chat next week about why that might be and a bit of casual Icelandic Research I was a part of in 2011...
 
Cheers!

 


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Uh ohhh look out...  this one might mess with a few heads because a "sacred cow" is being threatened ….and this one is controversial! Friends, we are talking about whether or not to squeeze a ball together between the knees during squat to help with knee pain. Many fitness and health professionals swear by this.

Research was done in the early 1990’s that kickstarted the idea that co-contraction of the hip adductors and knee extensors may elicit greater VMO activation, as apparently the majority of VMO’s fibers arise from the tendon of adductor magnus. Indeed, this has been previously researched with some encouraging results… whilst other have shown no effect at all.

Personally I stopped using the ball-between-the knees squeeze in the early 2000’s, and then in 2012 came across this research review article by The Sports Physiotherapist, which helped me understand it further. Read it here: “ Facilitating VMO Activation with Isometric Hip Adduction” (blog posted in 2012 by the group at The Sports Physiotherapist).

The simple counter argument is that excessive hip adduction, flexion and internal rotation have always been understood to accompany patellofemoral pain, so why reinforce this movement? Who needs to fire up the adductors - rather we should follow the research and loop a band around the knees to activate Gluteus Medius and the lateral rotators of the hip. 
Have a peek at this 2017 research paper to understand it more: "Looped Band Placed Around Thighs Increases EMG of Gluteal Muscles Without Hindering Performance During Squatting”
The findings of this research suggest that looped bands around the distal lateral portion of the thigh lead to:
  • increased EMG amplitude of the gluteal muscle group;
  • no change in hamstring or quadriceps EMG amplitude (NB: Vastus Lateralis - no EMGs were used on VMO); and
  • may have a small positive benefit in squat performance - increased REPS were noted with looped band but not significant statistically.
It seems there are certain situations that squeezing the ball does seem to help Grumpy Knees (which is just enough to convince the faithful to keep using it), even though now we accept that it does more harm than good for most knees.

I also believe the VMO is activated by this technique, but let’s chat next week about why that might be and a bit of casual Icelandic Research I was a part of in 2011...
 
Cheers!

Ulrik

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