What muscles help the knees move?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Muscles power the movement of your knees. These muscles include:
  • the quadriceps, a set of four muscles, often called the "quads," that runs up the front of your thigh and contracts when you straighten your knee, working hard when you get up from sitting or squatting
  • the calf muscle (gastrocnemius), which helps the knee and ankle bend.
  • the hamstrings, three muscles in back of your thighs that contract when you bend your knees, helping support your weight as you sit down, and helping to extend the hip as you get up.

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