Human Movement Science & Functional Anatomy of the:

Rectus Femoris

by Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

& Stefanie DiCarrado SPT, NASM - CPT, CES


Thigh Musculature - Note the superficial position, depth and attachments -


Rectus Femoris:

  • Origins: Tendinous attachment via the anterior iliac spine and attachment of deeper fibers (reflected head) to a groove on the superior border of the acetabulum and anterior joint capsule (3, 11).
  • Insertion:  Inserts into the quadriceps tendon via a broad and thick aponeurosis which occupies the lower two-thirds of its posterior surface, blending with tendinous ends of the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius to form the patellar tendon and insert into the base of the patella.  The quadriceps tendon continues inferiorly as the patellar ligament, with investing fascial slips into the medial retinaculum, lateral retinaculum, anterior capsule and inserting into the tibial tuberosity (11).

    • Proximally, the rectus femoris is bordered by the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) superficially and laterally and the sartorius superficially and medially.  Both muscles form an inverted "V" through which the rectus femoris emerges as it travels to its distal attachment on the patella (3).  The rectus femoris is the most superficial quadriceps muscle bordered by the vastus medialis medially, and vastus lateralis laterally and the vastus intermedius passing deep to the rectus femoris.
    • You can palpate the muscle easily from the anterior aspect of the thigh