How to Stretch the Sartorius Muscle

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Try this Simple Sartorius Stretch

To achieve a sartorius muscle stretch, find a position that combines the movements of hip extension, internal rotation and adduction. In a seated position turn your thigh inwards, pushing your hips forward, and pressing your knee to the ground.

The sartorius stretch featured in the video above combines these three movements to target the sartorius muscle brilliantly.

Usually when we think about the muscles of the anterior thigh, we immediately think about the quadriceps muscles (vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris). It is important however that we don’t neglect the sartorius muscle.

Much like the rectus femoris muscle, the sartorius muscle of the thigh crosses both the hip and the knee. However, unlike rectus femoris, the sartorius muscle contracts to create external rotation, abduction and flexion of the hip.

Therefore to stretch the sartorius muscle we need to find a position that combines internal rotation, adduction and extension of this hip.

How to stretch the sartorius muscle

Why Does the Sartorius Muscle Get Tight?

As with many other soft tissues, the sartorius muscle can become tight either as a result of an acute muscle tear or through overuse, or perhaps due to long periods spent in a specific position.

If you spend a long time sitting in a cross-legged position, or in the car in a driving position where were your knees are wide apart (knees either side of the steering wheel), your body will adapt to the time spent in combined hip flexion, abduction and external rotation. This may result in you developing tightness in the sartorius muscle, as it gets used to being held in a shortened position.

In the case of recovery from acute injury to sartorius, or overuse of the muscle, it’s important not just to stretch the tissue but also to strengthen sartorius.

How to Strengthen the Sartorius Muscle

There are a number of exercises you can use to effectively strengthen the sartorius muscle.

For more info about strengthening sartorius, visit our accompanying article:

Here are a couple for you to get started with…

Crossover Step-Ups

Providing the step is high enough (I usually recommend just below knee height), placing the foot in the crossover step-up position forces you to combine hip flexion with external rotation, which really targets sartorius.

Aim for 3 sets of 20 reps, alternating sides throughout.

Lateral Band Walks

These lateral band walks or “crab walks” are great for strengthening the abductors and external rotators of this hip, including the sartorius muscle, as you work against the resistance of the band.

Aim for 3 sets of 1-minute stepping, alternating sides throughout.

Last updated on June 15th, 2019.
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3 Comments

  1. Dear James,

    I have been experiencing heals pain for years and tried many exercises, physio and watched tons of videos.

    1. After gait analysis 4years ago with “Natural Way of Running”

    a. I changed my run from heal strikes to ball of foot strike

    b. This change eliminate pain from knees and hips

    c. Made me run faster

    d. Thus, this created tremendous pain on heals and maid calves more tight

    2. Last year I had a class with Chi-running

    a. Now trying to land on ball of the foot with more mass of the foot down but not heals, also they are asking to pull the legs backward without pulling quads up.

    b. No changes in heal pain.

    3. In the past months, I have been visiting physio therapist for the 3rd time; different people

    a. Last physio indicated that my toes don’t hit the ground while I am walking and start giving me toe exercises to build those muscles.

    b. No changes on heal pain but pushing with my toe at the end of the stride, it created new stiffness in my calf. So I stopped that.

    4. Lately, I have seen new videos that most effective is to land on ball of the foot and then land the entire foot including heals. This will extend the calves and release pressure on heals or plantar

    5. Recently, I tried to land the entire foot starting with ball of the foot, utilize your way of lifting legs up than pulling legs only backward as Chi-running, and push hips forward. Less pain while running but heal pain is still there.

    6. My body nature is a bit stiff and I stretch almost every morning and utilize foam roller.

    7. In my 20s I did tons of weight lifting, 30s running including ultra-marathons, 40s boxing and Triathlons. Now I am 52 yrs old with still exercises for triathlons with some weight lifting and toning exercises as bodypump and others

    8. I even get the heal pain after swimming but not as bad as running.

    I watched many of your videos and I can see that you have tremendous research of running injuries.

    My questions are:

    1. What is the most effective running technique for less heal pain

    2. Other exercises that help reducing the pain.

    3. Recommendations and offers.

  2. Hi James
    When I do this on my left side, I get a real tightness across the inside and front of my knee that is very sore. I don’t get this on my other knee?

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