Muscles Acting on the Knee

The following muscles form most of the mass of the thigh and produce their most obvious actions on the knee joint. Some of them, however, cross both the hip and knee joints and produce actions at both, moving the femur, tibia, and fibula (table 10.18).

The anterior compartment of the thigh contains the large quadriceps femoris muscle, the prime mover of knee extension and the most powerful muscle of the body (figs. 10.32 and 10.33). As the name implies, it has four heads—the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. All four converge on a

Figure 10.30 Muscles Acting on the Hip and Femur. 50graeil = slender

Anterior view. 51pectin = comb

Saladin: Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, Third Edition

374 Part Two Support and Movement

374 Part Two Support and Movement

Physiology Gluteus Muscles
Figure 10.31 Deep Gluteal Muscles. For the superficial gluteal muscles, see figure 10.34.

single quadriceps (patellar) tendon, which extends to the patella, then continues as the patellar ligament and inserts on the tibial tuberosity. (Remember that a tendon usually extends from muscle to bone and a ligament from bone to bone.) The patellar ligament is struck with a rubber mallet to test the knee-jerk reflex. The quadriceps extends the knee when you stand up, take a step, or kick a ball. It is very important in running because, together with the iliopsoas, it flexes the hip in each airborne phase of the leg's cycle of motion. The rectus femoris also flexes the hip in such actions as high kicks or simply in drawing the leg forward during a stride.

Crossing the quadriceps from the lateral side of the hip to the medial side of the knee is the narrow, straplike sartorius,52 the longest muscle of the body. It flexes the hip and knee joints and laterally rotates the thigh, as in crossing the legs. It is colloquially called the "tailor's muscle" after the cross-legged stance of a tailor supporting his work on the raised knee.

The posterior compartment contains the biceps femo-ris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus (fig. 10.34). These muscles are colloquially known as the "hamstrings" because their tendons at the knee of a hog are commonly used to hang a ham for curing. They flex the knee and, aided by the gluteus maximus, they extend the hip during walking and running. The pit at the rear of the knee, called the popliteal fossa, is bordered by the biceps tendon on the lateral side and the tendons of the semimembranosus and semitendinosus on the medial side. When wolves attack large prey, they often attempt to sever the hamstring tendons, because this renders the prey helpless. Hamstring injuries are common among sprinters, soccer players, and other athletes who rely on quick acceleration.

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