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The quadriceps femoris muscle (, also called the quadriceps extensor, quadriceps or quads) is a large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the great extensor muscle of the knee, forming a large fleshy mass which covers the front and sides of the femur. The name derives from Latin four-headed muscle of the femur.
The quadriceps consists of four separate muscles
The quadriceps femoris muscle is subdivided into four separate muscles (the 'heads'), with the first superficial to the other three over the femur (from the trochanters to the condyles):
The rectus femoris muscle occupies the middle of the thigh, covering most of the other three quadriceps muscles. It originates on the ilium. It is named for its straight course.
The vastus intermedius muscle lies between vastus lateralis and vastus medialis on the front of the femur (i.e. on the top or front of the thigh), but deep to the rectus femoris muscle. Typically, it cannot be seen without dissection of the rectus femoris.
In addition, cadaver studies have confirmed the presence of a sixth muscle, the tensor vastus intermedius. While this muscle has avariable presentation, it consistently originates at the proximal femur, runs between the vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius muscles, and inserts distally at the medial aspect of the patellar base. Historically considered a part of the vastus lateralis muscle, the tensor vastus intermedius muscle is innervated by an independent branch of the femoral nerve and its tendinous belly can be separated from the vasti lateralis and intermedius muscles in most cases.
The quadriceps femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve, which originates from L2, L3, L4.
All four quadriceps are powerful extensors of the knee joint. They are crucial in walking, running, jumping and squatting. Because the rectus femoris attaches to the ilium, it is also a flexor of the hip. This action is also crucial to walking or running, as it swings the leg forward into the ensuing step. The quadriceps, specifically the vastus medialis, play the important role of stabilizing the patella and the knee joint during gait.
The proper Latin plural form of the adjective quadriceps would be quadricipites. In modern English usage, quadriceps is used in both the singular and plural form. The singular form quadricep, produced by back-formation, is frequently used.
The quadriceps tendon connects to the top part of the kneecap (patella)
Cross-section through the middle of the thigh
The quadriceps forms the bulk of front part of the thigh