Rectus Femoris Muscle Anatomy

Overview
Origin Direct head: anterior aspect of the inferior iliac spine
Indirect head: acetabular ridge
Insertion Patellar ligament which inserts onto the tibial tuberosity
Action Extends the knee
Flexes the hip
Nerve Femoral nerve
Artery Femoral artery

Location & Overview

The rectus femoris is located in the anterior compartment of the thigh. It is the most superficial of the quadricep muscles. The other quadricep muscles are the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and the vastus lateralis. All four of the quadricep muscles converge into a single quadricep tendon which attaches to the patella [1].

rectus femoris from a superficial view

Here we can see the rectus femoris from a superficial view.

rectus femoris muscle in isolation

Here we can see the rectus femoris muscle in isolation.

Origin & Insertion

The rectus femoris muscle has two heads of origin. The first is a direct (straight) head and the second is an indirect (reflected head). The origin of the direct head is the anterior aspect of the inferior iliac spine whereas the origin of the indirect head is the acetabular ridge [2].

The quadricep muscles converge to form a single tendon. This tendon’s fibres travel superficial to the patellar and then become continuous with the patellar ligament. This ligament inserts onto the tibial tuberosity. This tendon is the insertion of the rectus femoris [3].

two heads of origin of the rectus femoris muscle

Here we can see the two heads of origin of the rectus femoris. The direct head (originating at the anterior aspect of the inferior iliac spine) and the indirect head (originating at the acetabular ridge).

origins of the rectus femoris muscle

Here we can see the origins of the rectus femoris muscle. The direct head originates at the anterior aspect of the inferior iliac spine and the indirect head originates at the acetabular ridge.

insertion of the patellar ligament and rectus femoris

Here we can see the insertion of the patellar ligament on the tibial tuberosity. The rectus femoris inserts into the patellar ligament.

Actions

The rectus femoris extends the knee and also assists in flexing the hip. The sartorius and iliopsoas work with the rectus femoris in flexing the hip. The rectus femoris is an antagonist of the hamstring muscles at both the hip and knee [4].

Innervation

The rectus femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve. The other three quadricep muscles (vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and the vastus lateralis) are also innervated by this nerve [5].

Blood Supply

Blood is supplied to the rectus femoris from the femoral artery. The other three quadricep muscles (vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and the vastus lateralis) also get their blood supply from the femoral artery[6].

Want some flashcards to help you remember this information? Then click the link below:
Rectus Femoris Flashcards

References

References
1, 5 Murdock CJ, Mudreac A, Agyeman K. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Rectus Femoris Muscle. [Updated 2021 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539897/
2 Kumaravel M,Bawa P,Murai N, Magnetic resonance imaging of muscle injury in elite American football players: Predictors for return to play and performance. European journal of radiology. 2018 Nov PubMed PMID: 30396649
3 Bordoni B,Varacallo M, Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Thigh Quadriceps Muscle. 2018 Jan PMID: 30020706
4, 6 Bordoni B, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Thigh Quadriceps Muscle. 2021 Jul 22. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 30020706.