The sartorius is the body’s most “fashionable” muscle. It is known as the “tailor’s muscle.” The word sartorius comes from the Latin term “sartor” meaning “tailor.” It received its name because it is especially useful in assuming the cross-legged position that ancient tailors used in their work.
The sartorius is the longest muscle in the body. It is a long, narrow, ribbon-shaped muscle located in the thigh. It originates at the hip (anterior illiac spine of the pelvis), crosses the front of the thigh, and inserts at the medial knee (the inside of the knee).
A number of vital structures depend on the sartorius. The large vessels of the thigh pass through the femoral triangle (also referred to as “Scarpa’s Triangle”), which is created by the sartorius, adductor longus, and the linguinal ligament. The sartorius serves as a main entry point when surgically accessing the femoral nerve.
The sartorius muscle is a biarticulate muscle, which means it crosses two joints – the hip and the knee joints. It has the unique ability to move both joints:
- Hip Movement
The sartorius is involved in the flexion and abduction (outward rotation) of the hip joint.
- Knee Movement
Converse to the hip joint, the sartorius is involved in flexion and adduction (inward rotation) of the knee joint.
Put these two movements together – hip up and upper leg pointing outward, along with knee bent and lower leg pointing inward – and you’d be sitting in a cross-legged position… just as tailors used to do!
Dysfunctions of the Sartorius Muscle
If the sartorius becomes tight and in a constant state of spasm, it will have a far reaching impact on your body. It will pull on the pelvis, creating an anterior tilt that will result in a higher risk of lower back pain and issues with digestion. The tilt and pull from the muscle anatomically will put more pressure on the intestines and pelvic area.
It also increases the potential for stress in the spine and possible impingement of the spinal nerves L4-L5. A tight sartorius can result in numbness in the front and outer thigh due to impingement as well.
As we work down the leg, a tight sartorius will inwardly rotate the knees bringing them into a knock-kneed position. This results in pressure on the attachment site, which over time can result in a bursitis.
Symptoms of Sartorius Dysfunction
- Burning, stinging pain under the skin starting at the bottom of the outside of the hip traveling down over the thigh to the inside of the knee
- Inside of knees may be painful or hypersensitive
Potential Causes of Sartorius Dysfunction
- Sitting with legs up and crossed for long periods of time
- Slipping or a misstep
- Sports that require planting one foot and making a sharp turn (such as basketball or football)
- Walking with an extended long stride
If you have questions about mysterious knee pain or unexplainable lumbar discomfort, please give me a call (404-964-6754). One of the great pleasures of my work is the process of discovering the reasons for pain and creating plans that facilitate for the best possible outcomes when treating those issues.