Surya Iacono explains why you should be exercising the sartorius muscle

You may not know its name, but there is a major muscle that you use all the time. It’s called the sartorius muscle and is the longest in the human body. And as it is heavily used, this ribbon-like muscle can cause problems.

What is the sartorius muscle? 

The sartorius muscle wraps around the outside of the hip towards the inside of the knee. It’s used during every possible movement, from jogging to weight training. Almost every time you move your lower body, you are using the sartorius muscle. 

There is a sartorius muscle on both sides of the body. To feel the origin of yours, run your hands along your hip bones. The bones sticking out at the front of your body is the origin of the sartorius muscle. It then crosses the front of the thigh at an inward angle. Finally, it inserts onto the medial side of the biggest bone in your lower leg – the tibia. 

Common sartorius actions include: 

  • Hip abduction: when you step to the side. 
  • Hip flexion: when you march on the spot with high knees. 
  • Knee flexion: when you touch your glutes with your heel. 
  • External hip rotation: when you stand with your legs and feet rotated outwards. 

A good example of a common exercise that uses all the sartorius actions is the ‘tree pose’ in yoga. This is where you bed your knee and hip to bring your foot upward. The next step is rotating your hip outwards in order to wedge your foot on the inside of the leg. 

As long as you are following a regular lower-body routine, you are strengthening the sartorius muscle. As it is involved in so many different lower-body movements, all you need to do is ensure you are exercising correctly. Every time you do a lunge, go for a walk or perform a yoga routine, you’re stretching it. 

Include rotations and abductions in your regime

However, two major actions of the muscle are generally neglected. These are external rotations and hip abductions. To ensure your workout covers these, you can add the following exercises. 

  1. Lateral step-up

You need a bench to perform these. They target every muscle group in the lower body and can be performed using just your body weight. Of course, you can add in weights or resistance bands if you want. Just stand to the side of a bench (or box), flex the knee and hip of the leg closest to the bench. Abduct your hip to step the foot onto the box. Follow on with the other leg to stand fully on the box. Reverse the same movement. You will end up back where you started. Just repeat this in sets of between 10 and 15 before swapping sides. 

  1. Plie-style squats

Before you execute a plie squat, you need to abduct your hips. This creates a sturdy supportive base. To do this step your feet laterally, rotate your hips outward until your feet, knees and thighs point towards the outside of the room. When in position, flex your hips and knees and lower your glutes straight down. When your knees reach a right angle, press down through your feet and return to standing position. Do between 10 and 15 reps, and again you can do it with just your bodyweight or with added weights. 

  1. Clamshell exercise

This may appear simple but when done properly it works the outer hips and external rotators hard. Lie down on your side. Extend your lower arm to support your neck and head. Flex your knees and hips until your thighs are at a right angle to your torso. Keep your body straight to the floor and your big toes touching. Flex your core and rotate your top hip to open your knees. Rotate as much as you can and reverse the movement. To up the difficulty, use a small resistance band around your lower thighs. 

Stretches for the sartorius muscle

You should also add in hip flexor stretches to properly loosen your hips and avoid injury. Here are some that you can add into your workouts. 

  1. Hip flexor stretch while kneeling

Kneel down with your left knee on the floor. Your right foot should be placed in front of you with your knee at a right angle. Put your hands on your hips and squeeze your glutes. Keeping upright, press your hips forward until the stretch can be felt in the top of the left hip. Hold for ten seconds and repeat up to five times before swapping legs. 

  1. Stretch with a foam roller

This can help to loosen the sartorius muscle. Use your foam roller on the hip crease or roll it on an angle across the thigh. Both of these will help a lot to loosen the muscle. They are likely to feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to do them anyway. 

About Surya Gabriel Iacono

Surya G. Iaconois a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya Iacono's fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.