Biceps Femoris Muscle: Anatomy, Location & Function

Instructor: Charity Hacker

I am a nursing instructor with over 20 years of nursing experience and a Masters Degree in Nursing Education.

The biceps femoris muscle is very important for human mobility. What is it? Where is it located? How does it function? In this lesson, you will learn all of that and more about the biceps femoris muscle.

Introduction to the Biceps Femoris Muscle

Imagine you are on the track team at your school. Everyone is practicing hard for a big competition that is coming up. You have been on the team for a long time and love jumping hurdles. All of a sudden, you are on the ground in excruciating pain. Your coach says you pulled your hamstring, but the doctor says it may be your biceps femoris muscle. What is this muscle? You need to know more.

Anatomy of the Biceps Femoris Muscle

Yes, technically the biceps femoris is part of the hamstring, so both your coach and the doctor are correct. However, your doctor is being more specific. The biceps femoris is one of a trio of muscles that make up the hamstring muscle group. The hamstring is comprised of three muscles; the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus. But wait, you're still confused. You thought your bicep muscle was in your upper arm? In anatomy of the body, we describe any muscle that has two heads, or points of origin, as a bicep. The biceps femoris has two points of origin.

One other notable fact about the anatomy of the biceps femoris is that it is a carrier for a portion of the sciatic nerve. At the lower end of the biceps femoris, the sciatic nerve branches into the tibial nerve and the common peroneal nerve. Often when you see or hear people complain about sciatic pain, they will identify the biceps femoris and hamstring areas as the location of the pain.

The blood flow to the biceps femoris comes from three arteries. These arteries are the inferior gluteal artery, the profunda femoris artery, and the popliteal artery. Some identify the profunda femoris as the deep femoral artery. More specifically, the profunda femoris branches into the perforating arteries, which actually supply blood to a portion of the biceps femoris.

Location of the Biceps Femoris Muscle

The biceps femoris starts right about at the point where the buttock area ends (the coccyx) and the thigh begins. It then progresses down to the back of the knee and attaches to the lower leg bones. It is part of the large muscle group (the hamstring) that covers the back of the thigh.

Points of Origin and Insertion

As we said above, the femoris bicep has two points of origin of heads. The long head begins on the lower portion of the pelvis. The short head begins at about the middle of the femur. The femur is the large bone in your upper leg. These two smaller portions of the muscle join together and progress down toward the point of insertion, at the back of the knee. Insertion is the location at which a muscle terminates, or ends. Here, they attach primarily to the fibula, but some smaller portions attach to the tibia. The tibia and fibula are the two bones located in the lower portion of the leg.

Biceps Femoris Short Head
Short Head of the Biceps Femoris.

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