General information

The Quadriceps femoris are a group of four muscles in the anterior thigh compartment or the thigh extensors. They are also knee extensors and due to their size, form the bulk of the anterior thigh, covering most of the anterior, lateral, and medial sides of the femur. The four muscles in this group are the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius.

Literal meaning

Four headed femoral muscle.

Interesting information

These muscles are very powerful in walking, running, jumping, and climbing and they assist in knee flexion and patella stabilisation during motion.


Rectus femoris: anterior inferior iliac spine, superior margin of the acetabulum of hip bone.

Vastus medialis: intertrochanteric line of femur.

Vastus lateralis: linea aspera, greater trochanter of femur.

Vastus intermedius: anterior surface of shaft of femur.


Tuberosity of the tibia (via the patellar ligament) (medial and lateral condyles of femur (vastus medialis and lateralis).


Hip joint: Thigh flexion (rectus femoris only).

Knee joint: Leg extension.

Nerve supply

Femoral nerve (L2-L4).

Blood supply

Lateral femoral circumflex artery.


Relevant research

Myositis Ossificans is a complication associated with severe quadriceps contusions. This is a non-neoplastic proliferation of bone and cartilage in the area of the contusion injury.

Strengthening the quadriceps has been shown to improve symptomatic and functional outcomes in knee osteoarthritis patients.

Kary JM. Diagnosis and management of quadriceps strains and contusions. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine. 2010 Oct 1;3(1-4):26-31.

DeVita, P., Aaboe, J., Bartholdy, C., Leonardis, J. M., Bliddal, H., & Henriksen, M. (2018). Quadriceps-strengthening exercise and quadriceps and knee biomechanics during walking in knee osteoarthritis: A two-centre randomized controlled trial. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 59, 199–206.

Quadriceps exercises


Static quadriceps contraction lying

Static quadriceps contraction lying

Lie flat on your back and with both legs straight. Keeping the leg still tighten one of your quadriceps but squeezing the muscle. Gently lift the heel a little off the floor whilst at the same time pushing your knee in to the floor.


Quadriceps stretch

Quadriceps stretch

Standing on one leg next to a chair, pull your foot towards your bottom. The greater the pull, the greater the stretch on the quadriceps.

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