The quadriceps muscle forms the front of the thigh. Its name, derived from Latin, means "four headed." It is a four-part muscle combining to form the quadriceps tendon which inserts on the patella (kneecap). The patellar tendon is a functional continuation of the quadriceps tendon, inserting on the front of the proximal tibia. The patella is a "sesamoid" bone (stone-like). This refers to a bone within a tendon. Acting as a fulcrum, it increases the force produced by contraction of the quadriceps when straightening the knee.
The rectus femoris - unique in that it originates from the front of the pelvis at the anterior-inferior iliac spine - continues on the front of the thigh, covering the vastus medialis and combining with the other quadriceps to insert on the patella. It works as a polyarticular muscle. Force produced by its contraction results in a combination of two possible movements: flexion of the hip and extension of the knee. The other three heads of the quadriceps are monoarticular and only act to straighten the knee.
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