What is the Gracilis Muscle?

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  • Written By: Lisa Bower
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2019
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The gracilis muscle is an important part of the human body that is linked to the movement of the thigh and knee, and has multiple microsurgical uses as well. This strap-like muscle runs along the lower half of the body, from the pubic bone to the shaft of the tibia before terminating in the lower leg region. The gracilis muscle is linked to the obturator nerve and typically is integral to movement of the thigh, to flexing ability of the knee, and to the ability of the leg to medially rotate.

When one refers to a pulled or strained groin, there generally is a high likelihood that the gracilis muscle is involved. A pulled groin usually is when an adductor muscle is torn or ruptured in some way. This injury often happens when a person is running and suddenly shifts position, such as during horseback riding or when playing football. If this movement is sudden, particularly strong, or if the groin muscles are overused, a rupture can be common. If the gracilis is torn, symptoms typically include tightness and tenderness of the groin muscles, difficulty walking, severe pain during physical activity, swelling, and bruising.


The size of the gracilis muscle typically varies from person to person. Those who are physically fit generally tend to have larger or wider gracilis muscles. It is possible to strengthen and increase the size of the muscle with enough physical activity. Research also has shown that men often have larger gracilis muscles than women. The size of the muscle could matter because it often is used in microsurgery; the more gracilis there is for a surgeon to work with usually translates into more options for which it can be used.

Gracilis muscles can be used for a wide range of reconstructive surgeries. For example, the gracilis muscle flap can be thinned and trimmed to cover wounds. Depending on the size of the muscle, it can cover wounds as much as eight inches (about 20 cm) in length. This can be integral for those who have experienced paralysis or muscle loss.

The gracilis muscle also has proven to be key after vascular surgery in terms of covering up the neurovascular bundle. Similarly, the gracilis muscle has been used in vaginal reconstruction, facial reanimation, and to help repair hand muscles. The muscle has been effective in treating anal incontinence by being fashioned into an external anal sphincter.


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Post 4

My husband pulled his groin a few days ago and I feel just awful about it. I convinced him to go horse back riding with me and he ended up getting injured!

I was curious exactly what muscle he pulled. I'm glad I stumbled onto this article. I had no idea what gracilis muscle function was but now that I know how important it is to leg movement I feel even worse for my husband. He's been taking it easy though so I'm sure he will be fine!

I don't think I will ever be able to convince him to go horseback riding with me again though.

Post 3

Interesting. I'm a little surprised to learn that muscles are used for reconstructive surgeries else where on the body.

I started trying to get into better shape lately and I hired a personal trainer. My trainer has been educating my a little bit about fitness and she told me that you only have a finite number of muscle cells. When skeletal muscles get bigger it's not because they gain more muscle fibers it's because the muscle fibers they do have bulk up.

So if a doctor takes muscle from one area and uses it on another area I doubt the muscles will grow back in the first area.

Post 2

the story behind the naming of the gracilis muscle?

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