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Your Sartorius Muscle 101

man doing lunges engaging sartorius muscle

Your sartorius, also known as the “tailor’s muscle”,  is one of the longest muscles in the human body that plays a key role in multiple leg movements. When it comes to activities such as running, walking, or crossing your legs you can bet that your sartorius is involved! 

Understanding our lower body anatomy can provide us with several benefits. This knowledge can help us as fitness enthusiasts or through a period of recovery if you’re experiencing discomfort. We can move about with better awareness of muscle location, function, exercises, and more. Hopefully, this page can bring you more of the information you’re looking for… let’s get started!

Where is Your Sartorius Muscle?

know where your sartorius muscle is


Your sartorius muscle is the longest muscle in your body - spanning over two joints (hip and knee). Its name comes from sartor of Latin origin - which translates to patcher, or tailor, due to how the individual will position their leg while working. It lies in a very shallow (superficial) position in the front part of your thigh - as it works alongside other muscle groups of the hip, thigh, and knee. [1] 


Sartorius Muscle Function

The sartorius muscle has the function of being a hip and knee flexor. 

At the hip:

  • Flexion (bending at your hip) 
  • External rotation

At the knee:

  • Flexion (Bending your knee when you bring your heel to your glutes) 
  • Internal rotation

Simply put, if you’re moving your hip or your knee, your sartorius is working for you! 

Without getting into too much detail, resources say that synergistic movements of your sartorius along with other leg muscles allow it to be moved into the figure-4 position (aka cross-legged position). [1]

Check out this animated video of the sartorius muscle in action! 

How to Stretch Your Sartorius Muscle

Try some of the stretches below to focus on your sartorius muscle!

Figure-Four Stretch

  1. Sit or lie down
  2. Cross one leg over the other, placing your ankle just above the opposite knee
  3. Using gentle pressure, press down on the raised knee to feel the stretch along the outer part of the crossed leg
  4. Hold this position for approximately 15-30 seconds
  5. Repeat on your other side. 

Standing Sartorius Stretch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Cross one leg behind the other, with your foot positioned diagonally.
  3. Shift your weight to the front leg and bend your knee slightly.
  4. Lean towards the side of the back leg - you will feel the stretch on the outer part of your thigh.
  5. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Try this variation of another (lying) sartorius stretch that can help you with pain relief! 

Stretching tips:

  1. Do remember to warm up before doing any stretching/exercise routine.
  2. Do stretches slowly, gently, and with control.
  3. Don’t push into your stretches if there is discomfort and avoid any sudden movements to prevent injury. 
  4. Consistency is key! Flexibility is achieved over time rather than in infrequent bursts of random stretching. 
  5. If you have any concerns about a concurrent health condition or pain, don’t hesitate to see your healthcare provider! 

Sartorius Muscle Exercises

Odds are, if you’re doing lower extremity movements, your sartorius is very involved. Here are some examples of exercises that focus on the muscles of your thigh.

  1. Leg raises: Lie on your side and lift the upper leg towards the sky - this will engage your sartorius.
  2. Squats and lunges: Any forward or side variation of lunges will activate your sartorius along with other essential leg muscles.
  3. Leg Press and (adductor/adduction) inner thigh machine

Exercise tips: 

  1. Focus on maintaining proper form
  2. If using a machine, start with a weight or resistance level that suits you - don’t overdo it!
  3. Don’t forget to incorporate your warm-up and stretching routine when you do these exercises!
  4. Recovery is also an important part of exercise, so remember to listen to your body to prevent any unnecessary strain or injury. 

Origins for Sartorius Muscle Pain

A main reason for sartorius muscle pain (and likely other types of muscle pain) is overuse - this leads to inflammation that can irritate the local tissue surrounding the tendon. [1] If you’re a male in your forties or you participate in endurance sports such as running or cycling, you are also at risk for developing this type of injury. 

If you find that overdoing it is not the root cause of your pain, any type of muscle tension or stiffness (maybe from inadequate warm-ups, lack of stretching, or a sedentary lifestyle) can set you down a path of discomfort. This is why stretching is such an important part of keeping your muscles in top-notch shape. 

A study in The Ultrasound Journal reports that some leg injuries (although relatively uncommon) can form intramuscular tears in your sartorius muscle. In this particular case, ultrasound is used to make the diagnosis. 

Luckily, most muscle injuries can see improvement with conservative interventions such as stretching, massage, and strengthening. More involved/severe cases may require physical therapy or pain medication/steroid injections. 

Sartorius Muscle FAQ

What does sartorial pain feel like?

Because of its length and location, sartorius muscle pain would often feel like ache/discomfort along your inner thigh area. Because everyone is different and the degree of injury may vary, this muscle pain may feel like a dull pain, tenderness, or tightness. If your attempts to address your inner thigh pain have no success, don’t hesitate to see your healthcare provider. 

How do you release the sartorial muscle?

Releasing tension, tightness, or knots in your sartorial muscle would involve actions such as:

  • Foam rolling - get in a deep stretch!
  • Massage - True muscle release can be attainable with some knowledge about Trigger Point Massage and Trigger Point Therapy.
  • Stretching
  • Rest and ice as part of your recovery

What exercise works the sartorial muscle?

Exercises that involve lower body movement will unavoidably require work from your sartorius muscle. To start off, walking, running, and squats or lunges will surely work this area out. Check out the above section on Sartorius Muscle Exercises.

What is the antagonist of the sartorius?

The antagonists are the gluteus maximus and hamstrings which all work to extend the hip. The quadriceps muscles are also antagonists - as they extend the knee. 

Sartorius Muscle: Conclusion

This tailor’s muscle is an interesting muscle to learn about seeing as it’s involved in leg movements and contributes to both hip and knee flexion. You’ll want to keep the sartorius in mind as you do any walking/running or even bending at the hip and knee - preserving our mobility is key to an independent lifestyle as we age. 

I hope this page has brought you some awesome and basic knowledge that you find useful whether it’s getting started on your flexibility or adding more to your strengthening journey. If I had to pick somewhere to start, I’d choose a stretch or two to add to my daily routine - since keeping our muscles flexible helps us achieve a better range of motion and can play a part in staying free of injury. Don’t hesitate to check out our other blog pages such as Which Body Region Should be Avoided During Myofascial Release Techniques and the Gluteus Medius Tear Test!   


[1] Walters, B., Varacallo, M. Anatomy, bony pelvis and lower limb: thing sartorius muscle. StatPearls, 2023. 

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