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(Last Updated On: October 7, 2018)

Gracilis Muscle Pain Pattern: A constant burning stinging pain on the inside of the upper thigh that can extend down into the knee.

Gracilis Muscle Pain: Signs and Symptoms

Gracilis muscle pain can be caused by injury or chronic pain due to trigger points in the muscle.

Gracilis Injury Pain

A gracilis strain or tear is felt as a sudden pop or a tearing sensation with immediate sharp pain in the groin and/or the inside of the thigh. The injury usually occurs during activities like running, jumping, and activities that require a sudden pivot or hard turn.

Gracilis Trigger Point Pain

Trigger points in the gracilis muscle cause burning stinging pain occasionally paired with an ache that can be felt anywhere in the muscle. A few reasons trigger points develop are a muscle injury such as a strain, a muscle imbalance, or habitually sitting with your legs crossed.

A strong indicator of gracilis trigger points is constant pain whether you are standing, sitting, or lying down. Finding a pain free position is almost impossible. Walking will sometimes help with pain relief.

Other common symptoms:

  • Bringing your legs together increases pain
  • Pain increases when you raise your straightened knee
  • Pain increases when you bend your knee and raise it toward your chest

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Where is the gracilis muscle located?

It attaches to the pubic bone, travels down the inside of the thigh and connects to the shin bone (tibia).

What movements does the gracilis muscle control?

  • Moves the thigh inward toward the body
  • Assists in lifting and moving the leg forward
  • Assists in twisting the knee in toward the body
  • Assists in bending the knee

Gracilis Anatomy Info

Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Gracilis Muscle Anatomy page has origin, insertion, innervation and blood supply information. It also lists agonist and antagonists for each muscle action.


Slipping is one of the most common causes of gracilis muscle injury.

What causes gracilis muscle pain?

The most common contributors to gracilis pain due to the development of trigger points:

  • Sitting with your legs up and crossed in a recliner or your feet resting on an ottoman or table puts enormous strain on the gracilis muscle.
  • Horseback riding can also cause problems in the gracilis due to the gripping action of the legs.

Gracilis muscle injuries are not common but do happen. The most common causes of injury:

  • Slipping or taking a misstep and either bringing your legs forcefully together to regain balance or your leg(s) spreading forcefully out to the side.
  • Athletes prone to gracilis injuries:
    • Hockey players risk of gracilis injury due to slipping and hard pivots and turns.
    • Soccer players risk injury when extending stride while running, slipping, hard turns and kicking the ball.
    • Football players can injure the muscle by over extending their stride while running, planting a foot to pivot or slipping on the grass are the most common reasons for injury. Kickers and punters are also susceptible to gracilis strains.
    • Basketball and volleyball players can pull the muscle when launching into a jump.
    • Gymnasts are susceptible to injury when doing the splits. Side splits are especially stressful for the gracilis.

Tips To Prevent Gracilis Muscle Injury and Pain

  • Don't sit for hours with your legs up in a recliner or propped up on an ottoman or table. Drop your legs down and let your feet rest on the floor. Get up and walk around.
  • If you have a habit of sitting with your legs crossed at the knees make a conscious effort to sit more with your legs uncrossed, feet on the floor.
  • Get off your horse and walk occasionally. Your gracilis and horse will thank you!
  • Watch where you are walking. Be extra cautious on slippery surfaces and walking in ice and snow.
  • Warm up before sports, exercise and other activities. A few minutes of warm up can save weeks of pain and down time.

How Long Does It Take A Gracilis Muscle Injury To Heal?

A mild gracilis muscle strain can recover in 2-3 weeks while a more serious strain can take 6-8 weeks to heal. If the stain is mild, moderate activity can be resumed in 4-7 days. A more severe strain should be rested at the onset of injury to allow healing. Light activity may be introduced in 2-3 weeks with the permission of your medical professional.

Trigger Point Recovery

If your discomfort is caused by trigger points in the gracilis muscle noticeable relief can happen after your first treatment. However it can take up to 2-3 weeks of daily treatments for the discomfort to completely disappear.

Gracilis muscle origin, insertion, action, innervation

You use the gracilis muscle when you pull your leg in toward the other leg, twist your knee inward. It helps you lift your leg to move forward.

Interesting facts about the gracilis muscle:

  • It is the second longest muscle in the body.
  • Tissue is taken from the  gracilis for reconstructive surgery.
  • It lies immediately under the skin.

Gracilis Muscle Pain and Symptoms Can Be Similar To, Contribute To, and Be Affected By These Medical Diagnosis:

  • Hip joint disease
  • Pulled groin
  • Pubic Stress symphysitis
  • L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the gracilis muscle:

Gracilis and Pes Anserinus Bursitis/ Tendonitis

Pes Anserinus is the area on the inside of the knee where the tendons of the gracilis, sartorius, and semitendinosus muscles connect to the shin bone.

Pes Anserinus Tendonitis occurs when the tendons become inflamed.

Pes Anserinus Bursitis describes the inflammation of the bursa, a gel filled sac, that is located between the shin bone (tibia) and the tendons of the sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus muscles.

Recommendations For Gracilis Muscle Pain and Recovery

Ice Packs

The Coldest Gel Ice Pack is large and will cover most of the gracilis muscle. The pack stays soft and pliable so it can easily be molded to your leg to provide constant and even treatment. The pack can be used on all areas of the body. This pack is not a hot/cold pack, it is made specifically for cold treatments.

Another option is the The Simple Spectra Clay Hot/Cold Wrap. Though not as large as previous wrap, it has two Velcro straps that will hold the pack in place. The wrap will also provide compression during treatment. Keep in mind to treat the entire gracilis muscle, the wrap will have to be readjusted 2-3 times. It too can be used and secured on most areas of the body. The wrap can also be heated for warm treatments.

Cold Therapy Gel for Gracilis Muscle Pain

Though not a replacement for ice packs, BioFreeze Pain Relieving Gel is recommended by doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers for recent soft tissue injuries. BioFreeze cools the area much like ice and if applied after a cold pack will extend the pain relief for several hours. Excellent choice for both new injuries and chronic pain.

Cold Treatment For The Gracilis Muscle

Cold therapy is the recommended treatment immediately after an injury. If you have sprained or strained the gracilis muscle cold packs should be your first step.

The burning and pins and needles sensations caused by the gracilis muscle can be unrelenting. Ice packs not only relieve the pain but also works to suppress the inflammation that may be a contributor to discomfort.

Warm Therapy Gel

Because of the gracilis muscle's  burning stinging pain many people prefer cold treatments. However others prefer warm treatment, especially if the pain is caused by trigger points and not injury.

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that is highly recommended. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain. Applying Sombra along the length of the gracilis muscle can relax the muscle and reduce pain and tightness.

Warm Therapy Treatment

Using warm therapy for gracilis muscle discomfort is a matter of preference. Some find warm therapy increases the uncomfortable sensations of  burning and stinging that are associated with gracilis injury and over use. Others find it helps.

Warm therapy is recommended to alternate with cold therapy 72 hours after the initial injury. Warmth is also beneficial for sore stiff muscles.

Braces and Supports To Help Gracilis Muscle Injury and Pain

 Gracilis Muscle Groin Support and Compression

The Bodyprox Groin Support can help provide compression and support to a high gracilis injury.  The wrap is made to fit high up on the thigh and around the hip with an abdomen band that will hold the wrap in place. The  adjustable Velcro closure can be adjusted for a snug fit. The brace is pliable neoprene which makes it comfortable to wear.

Compression Leggings For Gracilis Muscle Support

Compression wear is not just preventative wear for exercise. Compression wear can also aid in muscle injury support and reduce swelling during recovery time. To fully support the gracilis muscle it is important that you use leggings that go down past the knee so you support the full length of the muscle.

Compression Tights For Athletes

CW-X Endurance Pro Full Length Compression Tight is recommended for runners, joggers, weight liftes and hard-core exercise enthusiasts, for both support and also recovery. Be aware these fit very snug and can be difficult for some to get on. But if you are looking for great compression support for strenuous activities the CW-X leggings will not disappoint.

Compression Tights For Yoga, Walkers And Injury Recovery

CompressionZ also makes a great quality compression legging at a reasonable price. The Compressionz fit is not as tight as other compression wear made specifically for athletes and are easier to put on but still provides a snug compression fit. The leggings are a good choice to aid with recovery from injury and overuse syndrome. A great choice for yoga, walkers, and the gym.


Self Treatment Massage Technique For Gracilis Injuries

Constant burning and stinging on the inside of the thigh is an indicator of trigger points in the gracilis muscle.

The good news is that you can learn to find and treat the trigger points that can cause this discomfort. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is the best resource to learn to self treat and relieve pain throughout the body. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning and treating muscle pain.


Trigger Points

Trigger points are small knots found in the muscle that when pressed increase pain in the area or send referred pain to another area of the body. The good news is that you can learn how to treat your own trigger points.

FYI: Satellite trigger points associated with the gracilis muscle :

A muscle trigger point often produces more trigger points in other muscles. These are called satellite trigger points.

If you find trigger points in the gracilis muscle it is likely you will find trigger points in the sartorius muscle. The Trigger Point Workbook will help you find and treat these.

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