Biceps Femoris


Human Movement Science & Functional Anatomy of the:

Biceps Femoris (Lateral Hamstring)

by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Biceps Femoris by Gray’s Anatomy – 20th Edition via

What’s in a name

  • biceps 1630s (adj.), from Latin biceps “having two parts,” literally “two-headed,” frombis“double” (see bis-) + -ceps comb. form of caput “head” (see capitulum). As a noun meaning “biceps muscle,” from 1640s, so called for its structure. Despite the -s, it is singular, and classicists insist there is no such word as bicep. (Etymology Online)
  • femur (n.) 1560s, from Latin femur “thigh, upper part of the thigh,” which is of unknown origin. (Etymology Online)
    • “Two headed muscles on the femur”

Cross-section of the Thigh (Note the Biceps Femoris at the bottom of the picture) –

Biceps Femoris

  • Origin:
    • Long Head: Distal part of the sacrotuberous ligament and posterior part of the tuberosity of the ischium sharing a common tendon with the semitendinosus (8, 11).
    • Short Head: Lateral lip of the linea aspera,


Biceps Femoris — 52 Comments

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  2. Any advice in activating the glutes and external rotators while keeping the hamstrings off? Not sure if prone hip extension with knee flexed would do the trick or not?

    • Hey Dan,
      You could take a look at the following articles:
      “Gluteus Maximus Activation” –
      and “Gluteus Medius Activation” – articles. and could also look at “Posterior Hip Flexibility” – art to tone down those over-active structures.
      Hope that helps,

      • These exercises helped my situation tremendously. Quick questions: What kind of improper foot movements/mechanics could possibly cause the bicep femoris to go into overdrive?


        • Hey Nik G,
          Great question… Feet turn out is excessive tibial external rotation and is often the cause, or being caused by an overactive biceps femoris. Pronation can also cause excessive eccentric strain as the tibia is forced into internal rotation during pronation of the foot.

          • Hey Brent, when you say overactive Biceps Femoris is the cause of feet turn out, are you referring to an inverted plantar, or are you referring to turn-out as is seen in ballet dancers? I’m wrapping my head around this, so I apologize if my questions seem redundant…overactive biceps femoris…because it is activated in a shortened concentric contraction? I’m actually standing here trying to activate the muscles as in your description.

            Possible case study…a couple of my clients that have had intermedullary nailing of the tibia, myself imcluded, which is why this interests me, have experienced an external rotation of the tibia, thus forcing the foot to place excessive pressure on the 5th metatarsal, which had lead to pain. One of my clients was in a very bad way because the ortho placed the nail, then put him in a cast. He lost activation of his hamstrings, was moving from hip flexors, basically falling forward every time he took a step, gluteal muscles were weak, and he had the same 5th metatarsal pain as other clients, including myself.

            In this instance of cases, and those surgeries that deal with the knee, leg and the foot; there is definitely an increase of hip flexion and knee flexion activated by the psoas, illiacus, TFL, and quadricepts during the initial acute healing process.

            A theory I have about the nailing of the tibia. Most cases of intermedullary nailing of the tibia is the result of tibial spiral fractures. This original spiraling of the bone and the position of the foot immediately post trauma is both a neurological patterning, and structural patterning of the osseous tissue. The brain and systemic healing processes are working from this patterning complex during bone remodeling, as well as, in the usual guarding and adaptive conditions of excessive hip flexion for ambulatory movement.

            Did that make sense? My brain is on overdrive with fascination about the over or under activation of the biceps femoris.

            Thanks Brent!!

          • Hey Robert,
            I think we need to take a step back and try to determine how you came up with your list of over-active and under-active muscles. It is important that this is not based on feel, but assessment via observation of measurable signs, or special tests. I am not sure what an “Inverted Plantar” is… I don’t think this is common language. Feet turn out is the same as tibial external rotation. If you do a bit of research you will find that the knee is capable of 60 degrees of rotation, where as the ankle has very little transverse plane motion. The biceps femoris (along with the TFL, Vastus Laterlis, and Lateral Gastroc) are the external rotators of the tibia, and therefore implicated as over-active (contracting more than they should). This is generally paired with a reduction in activity of the internal rotators.
            This is not something you are going to be able to mentally show yourself… I have never met anyone who can simply “turn-on” their biceps femoris. We think in movement patterns and motion and some very complicated networking determines the muscles to be recruited.
            Hope that makes sense.
            Dr. B2

      • I appreciate the introduction to the Brugger Progressions, but what does that have to do with the Biceps Femoris?
        I’m confused,
        Dr. B2

        • Hey Brent, the suggestion for the Bruggers came about with the request for exercises to activate glutes and external rotators.

          From DP…Any advice in activating the glutes and external rotators while keeping the hamstrings off? Not sure if prone hip extension with knee flexed would do the trick or not?

          There is a seated progression and or squat progression included in the 3 minute set for the entire movement pattern…which puts the body through all the planes of movement.

          Thank you Brent for clarifying a few things for me…I was up way to late last night and I was afraid I wasn’t making my self clear. Again, it is late, or too early this morning. Either way, I shared a lot of thoughts and ideas in my other comments above, and I am working to make sense of some of the new scenarios I am seeing in my daily work.

          Inverted plantar…inversion vs eversion of the plantar surface of the foot.

          I need to take a moment to organize my thoughts before I comment further.

          I really appreciate the time you took to respond! It’s been a long week with my son’s ballet performance week!


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  40. Brent, I had a question regarding the active Hamstring exercise. You mentioned reciprocal inhibition. Wouldn’t reciprocal inhibition be activating the Gluts? Wouldn’t active stretching be more autogenic inhibition?

  41. Let me try this again. Maybe I just don’t understand this concept like I should. If I activate my gluts to inhibit my hamstrings that should be reciprocal inhibition right? And, if I passively stretch my hamstrings that should be autogenic inhibition right? So, if I activate contract my hamstrings isn’t that still autogenic inhibition?

  42. Active Stretching: Active stretching is a term used to describe a stretch that involves an active contraction of opposing musculature to lengthen a muscle to its end range (reciprocal inhibition. So, i guess what I am ultimately asking is how is this an active stretch of the hamstrings if you are activating the Hamstrings? Does this make sense? Sorry for all the posts but I am thinking deeply about this….

  43. Hi,
    Slipped 18 months ago, landing heavily on butt with right leg fully extended – Achilles came within whisker of rupture. Some hip pain developing in last couple of months and identified as possible SI Injury. Using a neoprene support on ankle to stabilize it more which has reduced the ache/pain a little. Are there stretches and/or exercises I should be doing to help the problem? Aches/pain in butt/hip/groin/quads and hams not constant but am conscious that I could be aggravating situation with wrong exercises and stretches – not something a 72 year old is keen to do!


    • This is a tough one John,
      I think you should see a PT… impact injuries like the one you are describing are not as easily assessed as some of the chronic conditions we address on the site. Although it is very likely that the exercise videos will help you, it is trying to figure out which ones that becomes tricky. If you are in the NYC area I would be happy to see you, if not, we may need to look for a qualified individual in your area.
      Dr. B2

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