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Rectus Femoris Muscle: Thigh, Knee Pain

The rectus femoris contributes to knee pain and weakness.

What are the symptoms and pain associated with the rectus femoris muscle?

  • Knee pain that feels as if it originates under the knee cap
  • Pain in the front of the thigh extending down into the inside of the knee
  • Weak knee
  • Stiff knee
  • Inability to fully straighten knee
  • Pain walking down stairs
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Sharp pain deep in the front of the thigh while sleeping

Where is the Rectus Femoris muscle?

The rectus femoris runs down the front of the thigh¸from the hip bone (ilium) to the knee (patella) and shin bone (tibia). The rectus femoris is one of four quadriceps muscles.

What movements does the rectus femoris muscle control?

  • Straightens the leg at the knee
  • Raises bent knee toward the torso

Activities that cause rectus femoris pain and symptoms:

  • Cycling
  • Climbing
  • Running and power walking
  • Swimming
  • Kicking a football or soccer ball
  • Swimming
  • Wearing high heel shoes
  • Sitting excessively
  • Tight hamstrings

Rectus Femoris origin, insertion, action, innervation

You use the rectus femoris when you straighten your knee and lift your bent knee up toward your torso.

Interesting facts about the rectus femoris: Knee Bugs

The rectus femoris is responsible for the condition known as ‘knee bugs’. Knee bugs is a creepy crawly type feeling and pain that occurs under the knee cap. This condition is often caused by a trigger point in the rectus femoris muscle.

Clinical diagnoses to which the rectus femoris muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Patella femoral dysfunction
  • Floating Patella
  • Subluxation / Dislocation of the knee
  • Buckling knee (trick knee)
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Torn meniscus (cartilage)
  • Quadriceps muscle tear
  • Sprain / Strain of the thigh or knee
  • Iliotibial tract friction syndrome
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Phantom limb pain
  • L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy

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

Satellite trigger points asscioated with the rectus femoris:

  •  Iliopsoas,
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Vastus Lateralis, Sartorius

Products To Help Rectus Femoris Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For Rectus Femoris Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If your pain is from a recently strained or strained rectus femoris muscle I would recommend Biofreeze. To treat the rectus femoris rub Biofreeze starting at the top of the front of the thigh and apply down to the knee.

Hot /Cold Pack For Quad Muscles

The Simple Spectra Clay Hot/Cold Wrap is a good choice to provide cold or warm therapy to the rectus femoris and other quadricep muscles The wrap not only provides a consistent temperature but also provides compression which is important for reducing swelling and aiding in faster recovery. The wrap can also be used on other areas of the body.

Warm Therapy Gel for Rectus Femoris Muscle Pain

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 to the muscles on the front of the thigh, down into the knee can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the rectus femoris muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and chronically sore tight quadriceps muscle

Braces and Supports To Help Rectus Femoris Quadriceps Injury and Pain

Thigh Wrap For Rectus Femoris Support and Compression

Thigh Brace by Vive covers the thigh and can be used for quadricep and hamstring support and rehabilitation. Secured with two velco fastners, the latex-free neoprene provides support and stays comfortably in place. The wrap provides great compression and warmth to help maintain muscle mobility and reduce pain.

Knee Brace for Rectus Femoris Knee Pain

The rectus femoris muscle can contribute to painful, stiff buckling knees. The Professional Choice Knee Support is highly recommended. It provides support to weak buckling and painful knees while providing heat to help keep the muscle, ligaments, tendons and joint mobile. The two Velcro bands are adjustable and allow you to adjust the compression. Although it looks bulky, it is comfortable and was made for people who ride horses who bend and straighten their knees for extended periods of time. It does not bind or pinch. If you are prone to knee injury and buckling knees this brace will give you relief and support.

Compression Leggings for Rectus Femoris 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. If you are considering compression wear look for graduated compression. Graduated compression provides tight compression at the lower end of your limb and gradually decreases compressive force toward the top of the limb. This is important for circulation and inflammation reduction. To support the rectus femoris muscle it is important that you use leggings that go down past the knee so you treat the full length of the muscle. Compression leggings for men as well compression leggings for women come in all sizes, have a choice of colors and are available in various price points. The leggings can be worn alone or under pants.

Men's Leggings
Women's Leggings

Self Treatment Tools For Rectus Femoris Pain

I recommend The Tiger Tail 18″ Roller to use on both upper and lower leg muscles to help relieve muscle tension and pain. I like the Tiger Tail for its ease of use and because it does not strain the wrists and hands. You do not have to contort into different positions or get on the floor or up against the wall to use this foam roller, simply roll it up or down the muscle. The 18″ is a good size to use on leg muscles as well as other muscles. The roller is also recommended by physical therapists, athletic trainers and doctors for self-treatment of muscles in between appointments. To use the Tiger Tail on the rectus femoris muscles start just above the knee and roll up covering the front of the thigh. Cover the entire front including just to the inside and outside of the front thigh. Start with light strokes for a minute or two and build into more pressure and more time. Do not overdo as you can irritate the muscles!

Massage Self Treatment for Rectus Femoris Thigh and Knee Pain

Do you know that small knots in the rectus femoris muscle can contribute to the inability to straighten the knee, pain walking down stairs and restless leg syndrome?

If this pain pattern sounds familiar I recommend that you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain and how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you have unresolved knee pain, pain under the knee cap, are unable to straighten your knee, or suffer from restless legs, it maybe trigger points in the rectus femoris muscle. Deactivating trigger points can reduce or eliminate this pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.