Sartorius: Pain & Trigger Points

The Sartorius is the longest muscle in the body and lies in the anterior compartment of the thigh.

If it is tense or carries trigger points, it can trigger pain in the thigh as well as in the knee.

With a self-massage you can free yourself from these tensions and trigger points and thus often relieve the pain.

On this page you will learn how to do this and much more!

1. Pain Patterns & Symptoms

1.1 Pain patterns

Trigger points in the sartorius can trigger pain in the area of the groin, inner thigh and knee.

The pain usually runs along the muscle and extends slightly upwards and downwards from the trigger point.

The quality of the pain is usually very sharp, in contrast to most other pains caused by myofascial trigger points, which are usually dull and diffuse.


1.2 Symptoms

Beside pain, trigger points in the upper part of the sartorius can trigger sensory disturbances (especially numbness) in the anterior and lateral thigh.

2. Attachment Points

The muscle runs from your pelvis diagonally across your thigh, down to the medial side of your lower leg.


  • Spina iliaca anterior superior


  • Pes anserinus


  • The muscle is innervated by the nervus femoralis.

3. Function

The sartorius’ functions.

  • External rotation at the hip
  • Flexion at the hip
  • Abduction at the hip
  • Flexion at the knee

The muscle is involved in many movements. I would like to provide you two examples (running and cycling).

When running, it flexes the hip and knee during the swing phase of the leg.

In the stance phase of the gait or if you stand on one leg, it stabilizes the knee and prevents an excessive “knock-knee” and genu valgum position, respectively.

When cycling with click pedals, it supports the flexion of the hip during the pulling phase.


Hip flexion


Knee stabilization of the grounded leg

4. Sartorius: Trigger Point Activation

Trigger points in this muscle get activated mainly along with trigger points in its synergists. Synergists are muscles that have similar functions and support each other.

These are primarily hip flexors and hip abductors:

Trigger points in these muscles can get active when …

  • they are constantly held in one position,
  • they get overloaded,
  • or suffer a trauma.

4.1 Examples of holding muscles in “one position”

All sitting positions are to mention, as the hip is permanently flexed. This pushes the muscle fibers of the hip flexors into each other.

  • Sitting at a desk
  • Driving a car
  • Sitting in an armchair
  • “Loitering” on the sofa

4.2 Active overloads

Active overloads of the hip flexors occur mainly due to constant repetitive and monotonous movement sequences.

  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Skateboarding

4.3 Trauma

Traumas refer to strong external forces/impacts on the muscle.

  • Bumping into hard objects
  • Bruise/contusion on the thigh
  • Tennis ball or golf ball against the leg

5. Palpation and Massage Area

Feeling the muscle and distinguishing it from the other thigh muscles is difficult and not necessary.

All you need to know is that you will be massaging the entire area of your thigh. In the upper compartment mainly the lateral part and in the middle and lower compartment the medial part.

6. Self-massage of the Sartorius

The easiest way to massage this muscle is in a lying position on the floor, using a foam roller.

  • Lie face down on the floor and place a foam roller under your thigh.
  • Support yourself on your elbows.
  • Make small rolling movements and roll slowly all over your thigh.
  • This way, search for painful tensions.
  • Once you find one, slowly roll over it a few times.

In the superior/upper portion of the leg, build up pressure in the lateral/outer area of the anterior thigh.


In the lower area, focus on the medial/inner area of the front thigh.

Note: The Massage of the thighs can be very painful and take your breath away. If this is the case, just lie on the roller instead of rolling over it.

Once you identified a painful spot, remain on it and try to “relax into it“ – deep breaths will help you here.


  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. The Lower Extremities. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1993. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print