The Lowdown on Your Sartorius Muscle and Thigh Pain

If you've got thigh pain, you might automatically assume you've injured your quads. However, the sartorius also crosses the front of your thigh, running at an angle from the outside of your hip to the inside of your knee. This often-overlooked muscle even has a special nickname — the tailor's muscle — named after its function. Sartorius muscle pain can be caused by straining this muscle.

Stretching can help relieve sartorius muscle pain. (Image: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages)

Get to Know Your Sartorius

The sartorius muscle is the longest muscle in your body. It starts at your outer hip, crosses over your thigh bone, continues along the length of your inner thigh and then ends just below the inside of your knee.

This muscle is involved when you bend your knee to lift your foot up to the back, and it helps you to flex and rotate your hip. This mimics the position in which tailors used to sit. The sartorius also helps to stabilize your pelvis.

Sartorius Muscle Strain

A sartorius muscle strain can cause pain in your hip or knee, depending on the area of injury. This muscle can be pulled or strained during high-impact activities such as sprinting, jumping and running.

Activities that make you forcefully push off place a lot of strain on this muscle. A direct hit to this area during sporting activities can also cause injury and pain. If you play sports such as hockey, rugby, football or basketball, you may be at a higher risk of injuring this muscle.

Symptoms of Sartorius Strain

Pain from a sartorius muscle strain will often be felt along the inside of your thigh or your groin area. Bringing your legs together will be painful. In some cases, lifting your knee up can set off your symptoms.

You may also have weakness and tenderness in the muscles of the inner thigh. A physical therapist or physician can do a physical examination to determine if your pain is due to injury to this muscle.

Treatment for Sartorius Strain

To relieve your sartorius muscle pain, you will need a period of eliminating activities that make your pain worse. Using ice on the area and taking anti-inflammatory medications will also help. As you return to physical activity, your doctor may recommend using a bandage to wrap your thigh.

A brief period of physical therapy will teach you exercises to relieve your symptoms and help prevent reinjury of the area. Stretching can help reduce soreness from a sartorius muscle strain and reduce friction on surrounding bursa, or fluid-filled sacs, that provide cushioning around the muscle.

HOW TO DO IT: Side-sit with your knees bent away from your injured leg. Lean back onto the uninjured side's elbow and use your other hand to gently press your pelvis forward on the injured side.

As you press your pelvis forward, actively push the same knee down toward the ground until you feel pulling in the front of your thigh. Hold this sartorius muscle stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Preventing Further Injury

Avoid painful activities and gently stretch until you regain full range of motion and normal strength in the injured leg and when you can walk without pain or limping. To avoid sartorius muscle pain, you will need to make sure you warm up and cool down when exercising.

Using good body mechanics, doing the right strength-training and stretching exercises for the inner thigh will be an important component of your treatment plan.

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