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What to know about sartorius muscle pain

People with sartorius muscle pain may have pain in their knee or the front of their hip. Certain exercises can help strengthen the muscle and reduce pain.

The sartorius is the longest muscle in a person’s body. It helps with bending the knees and hips and rotating the leg outward.

It is sometimes known as the “tailor’s muscle” because it allows people to sit with the heel of one foot across the knee of the other leg. People used to adopt this position when sewing seams by hand.

The sartorius acts on two joints, flexing a person’s hip and knee. Activities, such as dancing and gymnastics, can stressTrusted Source this muscle at the knee. Sitting for prolonged periods can tighten the muscle around the hip.

This article explains what the sartorius is and what it does. It also looks at how doctors treat sartorius muscle pain and suggests some exercises to help strengthen it.


Most people with sartorius muscle pain feel a burning sensation down the front of their hip or tenderness on the inside of their knee.

Muscle strains happen when muscle or tendon fibers are overstretched or torn. Pain typically increases when people try to use the strained muscle.

If the muscle is strained closer to the knee, people may have tenderness and pain on the inside of the knee and sometimes in the middle of the shinbone, about two inches below the joint. The pain may worsen during exercise or while climbing stairs.


The sartorius is one of the muscles in the front of the thigh. It starts at the foremost part of the hipbone, known anatomically as the anterior superior iliac spine. From here, the muscle crosses the front of the thigh and connects with the tibia or shinbone.

Thick bands of fibrous tissues — tendons — connect muscles to bones. Two other thigh muscles, the gracilis, or inner thigh, and semitendinosus, one of the hamstrings, also connect at the same point on the tibia, and all their tendons conjoin. Collectively, this is known as the pes anserinus.

The tiny, jelly-like sacs, or bursae, between the tendons and a person’s tibia reduce friction between the tendon and the underlying bone, allowing for smoother movement.

Sartorius function

The sartorius flexes or bends both the hip and knee joints. At the hip, this helpsTrusted Source with walking, as it brings the leg forward. The sartorius is also involved when a person rotates their hip outward, rotates the knees inward, or bends the knees.

Associated conditions

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), hip strains can happen due to acute injuries or from overuse.

Acute injuries include events such as falls, blows, or overstretching. Overuse happens over a longer period of time, often from repetitive movements.

Most people strain their hips where the muscles and tendons connect. Repeated strains may lead to a sports hernia, or athletic pubalgia — a strain or tear in the tendons, muscles, or ligaments in the lower abdomen or groin area.


Most people with sartorius muscle pain get better with rest and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. If the tendons have completely torn away from the bone, doctors may recommend surgery to reattach them.

Some people may find ice helps relieve pain. Applying an ice pack to the knee or hip for about 20 minutes at a time, a few times a day, may help.


The AAOS recommends people exercise to strengthen their muscles and stretch to relieve any tightness. Warming up and cooling down before and after exercising is also essential in preventing muscle strains.

Simple stretches that target the sartorius muscle include:

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

This stretch involves the following steps:

  • Kneel on a mat on the floor.

  • Keep one leg where it is and bring the other leg forward so that the foot is flat on the floor and the knee bent at 90 degrees.

  • Maintain an upright body position, placing the hands on the hips.

  • Breathe in, and tighten the abdominals and buttocks.

  • Breathe out and slowly push the hips forward.

  • Hold the stretch for a count of 10, then release.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

Sitting rotation stretch

This stretch involves the following steps:

  • Sit on a mat on the floor, with legs stretched out.

  • Bend one leg, and cross it over the other. Use the same hand as the bent leg for support.

  • Breathe in, and pull in the abdominal muscles.

  • Place the other arm over the bent thigh and slowly twist over the bent leg, looking over the shoulder.

  • Hold the stretch for a count of 10, then release.

  • Repeat the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

Hip roll

This exercise involves the following steps:

  • Lie on a mat on the floor with the belly towards the ceiling.

  • Bring the arms wide, at shoulder height, and turn the palms upward.

  • Bend the knees, keeping the feet flat on the floor.

  • Breathe in, and tighten the abdominal muscles.

  • Slowly lower both knees to one side, keeping the shoulders and upper back down on the mat.

  • Take a breath in at the bottom, and make sure the abdominal muscles are contracted.

  • Breathing out, slowly lift the knees back to the starting position. Try not to push off with the feet.

  • Repeat the same number of repetitions on each side.

Lateral band walk

This strengthening exercise requires a resistance band and involves the following steps:

  • Stand with feet hip distance apart, and tie the resistance band in a loop around the ankles. The band should have some tension but not be too tight.

  • Breathe in, and pull in the abdominal muscles. Bend the knees slightly, and sit back into the heels.

  • Concentrate on starting the movement from the hip. While breathing out, slide one leg to the side, stretching against the band.

  • Bring the other leg in, keeping the tension on the resistance band while breathing out.

  • Repeat the same number of steps on each side.

The clam

This strengthening exercise involves the following steps:

  • Lie on one side on a mat on the floor. Straighten the body so that it has stacked the hips on top of each other, and the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle align.

  • Bend both knees, keeping the heels in line with the back of the pelvis.

  • Breathe in and tighten the abdominal muscles.

  • Keeping the feet together and moving from the hip, lift the top knee while breathing out.

  • Breathe in and slowly lower the leg back down.

When to contact a doctor

Most people do not need to see a doctor for sartorius muscle pain. Occasionally, the tendons can tear away from the bone, and a person may require surgery to reattach them.

If the pain lasts more than a few days or stops a person from moving around normally, they may need to see a medical professional who can order X-rays to rule out any fractures.


People with sartorius muscle pain usually recover fully with rest and gentle exercise. Some people may also need physical therapy.

The sartorius muscles act on both the hip and the knee, so exercises that strengthen these areas can help prevent pain and injury.


People with sartorius muscle pain may experience a burning sensation down the front of their thigh or tenderness on the inside of their knee.

Most people can treat muscle strains at home, but a serious injury may require surgery.

Article source: Medicalnewstoday, Medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT, Physical Therapy — By Belinda Weber on January 18, 2023

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