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What is the Gracilis Muscle and What Does it Do?

Expand your fitness knowledge.

Time to learn more about how the Gracilis Muscle works and why it’s important for your health, fitness and health.

What is the Gracilis Muscle?

Gracilis muscle is a long and slender muscle located in the medial (adductor) compartment of the thigh.

It forms part of the adductor muscle group together with adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus and pectineus muscles.

Gracilis is the most superficial hip adductor, overlying the remaining four. It is also the weakest member but the only hip adductor that crosses and acts on two joints; the hip and knee.

What is the Function and Action of the Gracilis Muscle?

The most important function of the gracilis is to help the hamstring muscles flex the knee, for example during the initial swing phase in walking, or during boat rowing.

The medial rotation of the leg also becomes evident during walking, when the foot is solidly planted on the ground. When the lower extremity is fixed, the gracilis muscle laterally rotates the femur and pelvis around the tibia, which acts as a fulcrum.

This action is important to balance the trunk. However, all movements of the gracilis become evident during horse riding, when the muscle helps the rider to grip the horse (thigh adduction) and control the flexed knee.

The muscle adducts, medially rotates (with hip flexion), laterally rotates, and flexes the hip as above, and also aids in flexion of the knee.

What is the Insertion Side of the Gracilis Muscle?

“The gracilis muscle decends almost vertically down the leg and inserts on the medial tibia at the Pes anserinus.

The pes anserinus is also the attachment site of the Sartorius and Semitendinosus. The muscles attached here can be remembered by the acronym sargent or “SGT” for Sartorius Gracilis semiTendinosus.”

What is the Shape of the Gracilis Muscle?

It is thin and flattened, broad above, narrow and tapering below.

Blood Supply to the Gracilis Muscle

Gracilis receives the majority of its vascular supply from the ‘artery to the adductors’, which is a branch of the deep femoral artery. The ‘artery to the adductors’ enters gracilis via its lateral surface, approximately one third away from its origin.

The proximal portion of the muscle also receives a small proportion of blood supply from the medial circumflex femoral artery. The distal third of the gracilis is also supplied by a minor branch of the femoral artery.

Is Gracilis Muscle a Hamstring?

Of the four hamstring muscles, the gracilis is the thinnest. It is sandwiched between two other muscles, which may help protect it in most people. It is described as a striplike muscle. It’s a long muscle that crosses two joints (the hip and the knee), which can put it at a mechanical disadvantage.

How do you Fix Tight Gracilis?

Jeffery Beck, exercise specialist from Intermountain Medical Center suggests completing the following gracilis stretch and strengthening routine twice a week to keep the muscle healthy and strong!

1) Standing Gracilis Stretch:

Place your right leg on a raised platform and slightly turn away from your raised leg. Keeping your hips facing forward, slowly bend your opposite leg until you feel a gentle stretch on the inside of your right thigh.

Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Do 3 sets of 30 seconds per leg.

2) Seated Gracilis Stretch/Resistance Exercise:

Sit on the floor with your feet together, hands on your feet and elbows resting on your inner thighs. Gently press down on your thighs with your elbows until you feel a stretch through the inner thighs. Hold for 5 seconds.

Now press up against the elbows with your thighs and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat the process back and forth for 30 seconds.

Complete 3 sets of 30 seconds.

3) High Knee Hurdle Walk:

Drive your right knee up to the side and then bring it in toward your body as you step forward as if stepping over a hurdle.

Repeat the same motion with your left leg.

The movement should resemble how a duck walks.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.

Does Gracilis Flex the Knee?

The gracilis is responsible for hip adduction and assists knee flexion. Adduction means the body part is moved from the outside toward the center of the body.

In this case, it is bringing both legs together or across the body. This muscle also assists in stabilizing and rotating the knee inward.

Can Gracilis Muscle Cause Knee Pain?

The sartorius (a muscle that runs across the front of the thigh), the gracilis (an inner leg muscle), and the semitendinosus (an inner hamstring muscle) meet and attach to the tibia at the inner knee.

Overuse of these muscles (as with cycling or running) can cause tenderness in this area.

Is the Gracilis a Two Joint Muscle?

A two-joint muscle (or biarticular) is one that crosses two joints. The sartorius and gracilis cross both the hip and knee joints as well.

Both attach very close to one another on the medial aspect of the proximal tibia, or lower leg.

Gracilis Muscle Information

Now you have the information you need to build strong, healthy and flexible legs in regards to the Gracilis Muscle.

Learn more about the Infraspinatus Muscle or try these Russian Kettlebell Swing Workouts.

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