Semimembranosus muscle

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Semimembranosus muscle
Semimembranosus muscle.PNG
Muscles of the gluteal and posterior femoral regions (semimembranosus labeled at bottom left)
Latin Musculus semimembranosus
Origin Ischial tuberosity
Insertion Medial condyle of tibia
Profunda femoris and gluteal arteries
Tibial part of sciatic nerve
(L5, S1 and S2)
Actions Extension of hip and flexion of knee
Antagonist Quadriceps muscle and Tensor fasciae latae
Gray's p.479
TA A04.7.02.036
FMA 22438
Anatomical terms of muscle

The semimembranosus (/ˌsɛmimɛmbrəˈnsəs/) is a muscle in the back of the thigh. It is the most medial of the three hamstring muscles.


cross-section of thigh semimembranosus labelled bottom right

The semimembranosus, so called from its membranous tendon of origin, is situated at the back and medial side of the thigh.

Its origin is the ischial tuberosity and it inserts on the medial condyle and nearby margin of tibia; intercondylar fossa of femur and lateral condyle of femur; and the ligament of the popliteal region (at the back of the knee). It arises by a thick tendon from the upper and outer impression on the ischial tuberosity, above and medial to the biceps femoris and semitendinosus.

The tendon of origin expands into an aponeurosis, which covers the upper part of the anterior surface of the muscle; from this aponeurosis, muscular fibers arise, and converge to another aponeurosis which covers the lower part of the posterior surface of the muscle and contracts into the tendon of insertion.

It is inserted mainly into the horizontal groove on the posterior medial aspect of the medial condyle of the tibia.

The semimembranosus is wider, flatter, and deeper than the semitendinosus (with which it shares very close insertion and attachment points).

The tendon of insertion gives off certain fibrous expansions: one, of considerable size, passes upward and laterally to be inserted into the posterior lateral condyle of the femur, forming part of the oblique popliteal ligament of the knee-joint; a second is continued downward to the fascia which covers the popliteus muscle; while a few fibers join the tibial collateral ligament of the joint and the fascia of the leg.

The muscle overlaps the upper part of the popliteal vessels.


The semimembranosus is innervated by the tibial part of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve consists of the anterior divisions of ventral nerve roots from L4 through S3. These nerve roots are part of the larger nerve network–the sacral plexus.[1] The tibial part of the sciatic nerve is also responsible for innervation of semitendinosus and the long head of biceps femoris.


It may be reduced or absent, or double, arising mainly from the sacrotuberous ligament and giving a slip to the femur or adductor magnus.


The semimembranosus helps to extend (straighten) the hip joint and flex (bend) the knee joint.

It also helps medially rotate the knee: the tibia medially rotates on the femur when the knee is flexed. Medially rotates the femur when the hip is extended. The muscle can also aid in counteracting the forward bending at the hip joint.[1]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ a b Saladin, Kenneth S. Anatomy & Physiology: the unity of form and function. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

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