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Biomechanic Insight

Rectus Femoris in Action

Rectus femoris 20 August 2019 – Tanya Thompson

♦️A look at the anatomy and how it affects our joints is vital when teaching any form of movement.

It forms the foundation of any Movement Professionals knowledge and enables them to see the body as a moving entity that delivers feedback by either compensating or creating altered paths of movement in order to do what is expected of it.

The Rectus Femoris is a double joint muscle that spans over the hip and knee joint. Therefore, it is in its most concentric form when the body is in hip flexion and knee extension simultaneously. This in essence is important as we expect the body to be in hip flexion and knee extension at times during our day or during our training sessions.

▪️What really influences its ability to contract is the way in which an individual takes their trunk forward in order to get their head down to their knees. This movement is performed in two ways:

  1. ▪️Predominantly through spinal flexion
  2. ▪️Predominantly through hip flexion

♦️Spinal Flexors: These individuals are able to get their head down to their legs, if the hamstrings allow through dominance in spinal flexion.

♦️Hip flexors: These individuals are able to get their head down to their legs easily as they hinge at the hip joint with less spinal flexion. They appear to have a ‘flatter’ lumbar spine but in essence, they have ‘broken’ at the hip joint into a pure hip hinge with ease.

What is the significance of this in relation to the Rectus Femoris?

The Spinal Flexor will find Rectus Femoris work more challenging when in hip flexion and knee extension. They will want to compensate through flexing their lumbar spine in order to decrease effort on the Rectus Femoris.

The Hip Flexor finds Rectus Femoris work in hip flexion with knee extension far easier. If you look at the Pilates Teaser, why do some people find this movement so easy and others really suffer. Apart from 100 other reasons for this, one of the main reasons is the easy ability to perform hip flexion with extended knees as seen in a pure HIP FLEXOR INDIVIDUAL.

A Spinal Flexor will have to work really intensely in their lumbar back extensors in order to maintain the hip flexion with knee extension. If the Spinal Flexor also has tight hamstrings, the work required from the Rectus Femoris intensifies as it fights against the hips inability to flex easily and the tight hamstrings.

What will normally happen when you are dealing with a spinal flexor and tight hamstrings? Rectus Femoris cramping.

Will it improve? Absolutely!

How? Through performing the challenging movements of hip flexion and knee extension with the objective being to strengthen the body in this movement.

▪️Not only will the Rectus Femoris be affected in this manner, but the Rectus Femoris, if tight, will inhibit the hip extensors and hip stabilizers as it restricts the range of hip extension. It also pulls the pelvis into that anterior pelvic tilt and therefore favours the TFL which in essence becomes a cheat for the Gluteus Medius.

Therefore, not only does it affect the stability of the posterior pelvis, but it also affects the stability of the hips.

♦️I think it is safe to say that the Rectus Femoris’ state of flexibility and activity will affect the exercises that you choose for each client that you teach.

So get that Rec Fem more flexible and get it active over both the hip and knee joint and experience ease of movement.

That is the Healthy Truth. and



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