Anatomy word of the month: pes anserinus

August 1, 2009 —

Did you know you had a “goose foot” on the inner side of your knees? Those imaginative, ancient anatomists envisioned that the three muscles that come together on the medial surface of the knee looked like the three-toed foot of a goose. Each of the three muscles, in turn, has interesting meanings. Semitendinosus is quite literal describing its long rope-like attachment. Gracilis muscle means “graceful or slender”. The sartorius muscle means “tailor”. Long ago before sewing machines, the tailor’s traditional position while sewing was to sit cross-legged. The actions of the sartorius muscle assists in getting in and out of this position. In some flowery literature someone elegantly dressed may be described as “sartorially resplendent”.