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Pain across knee or low back? Release this muscle.

The rectus femoris (front of the thigh) is the longest muscle in the body. When it is tight it can affect the hip and the knee. Releasing this muscle is the first step to relief.

Muscle anatomy

The rectus femoris is one of the four muscles that make up the front of the thigh. It is the only one of these muscles to run across both the knee joint and hip joint. Therefore, it can affect the lower back, the hip, and the knee. The muscle originates from the front of the hip and attaches to the top, front of the lower leg at the patellar tendon. The muscle extends the knee, flexes the hip joint, and increases the arch of the lower back.

Symptoms of tightness

  • Pain in the lower back

  • Pain across and around the patella

Causes of tightness

  • Sitting for prolong periods of time

  • Poor posture

  • Stress

Flexibility test

  1. Lie on your back on a firm surface - bench or coffee table or two chairs put together

  2. Bring both knees to your chest until the low back is flat against the surface and hug yourself

  3. Extend your right leg out straight until a stretch is felt in the right hip

  4. Bend your right knee 90 degrees

  5. The right knee should not raise up as the knee is bent

  6. Repeat other leg

Static release - minimizes trigger points and adhesions and is the first step in improving this muscle.

Static Release

  1. Lie on the floor on your stomach

  2. Place a tennis ball or lacrosse ball under the center of your right thigh

  3. Find a tender spot that is a level 5 to 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 - 10 being excruciating

  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until there is pressure but no pain

  5. If a release is felt before 2 minutes ends, find a new spot

  6. Repeat on the left side

Repeat the tightness test to see if improvement has been made.

Check out our posture-improving devices here if you are having trouble with posture, especially in the upper body.


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