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Gluteal muscles: want to learn more about it?

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Gluteal muscles

The gluteal muscles, also referred to as glutes or buttock muscles, are a muscle group consisting of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae muscles. They are found in the gluteal, or buttock region, overlying the posterior aspect of the pelvic girdle and the proximal part of the femur.

In terms of function, the gluteal muscles act on the hip joint, mainly to facilitate abduction and extension of the thigh but some also assist in the adduction, external rotation and internal rotation of the thigh. Thus, the gluteal muscles are important for a variety of activities including walking, standing on one leg, and walking up the stairs.

This article will discuss the anatomy and functions of the gluteal muscles.

Key facts about the gluteal muscles
Definition The gluteal muscles are a superficial group of hip muscles that are situated in the gluteal region, overlying the posterior aspect of the pelvic girdle.
Gluteus maximus Origin: Lateroposterior surface of sacrum and coccyx, facies glutea alae ossis ilii (behind the linea glutea posterior), fascia thoracolumbalis, ligamentum sacrotuberale
Insertion
: Tractus iliotibialis, tuberositas glutea femoris
Innervation
: Nervus gluteus inferior
Blood supply
: Arteria glutea inferior and superior
Function
: Extension, external rotation, abduction and adduction of the thigh
Gluteus medius Origin: Facies glutea alae ossis ilii (between the linea glutea anterior and linea glutea posterior)
Insertion
: Lateral aspect of trochanter major femoris
Innervation
: Nervus gluteus superior
Blood supply
: Arteria glutea superior
Function
: Abduction and internal rotation of thigh; pelvis stabilization
Gluteus minimus Origin: Facies glutea alae ossis ilii (between the linea glutea anterior and linea glutea inferior)
Insertion
: Anterior aspect of trochanter major femoris
Innervation
: Nervus gluteus superior
Blood supply
: Arteria glutea superior
Function
: Abduction and internal rotation of thigh; pelvis stabilization
Tensor fasciae latae Origin: Spina iliaca anterior superior, labium externum cristae iliacae
Insertion
: Tractus iliotibialis
Innervation
: Nervus gluteus superior
Blood supply
: Arteria circumflexa lateralis femoralis
Function
: Internal rotation of thigh, external rotation of leg; hip and knee joint stabilization
Contents
  1. Overview
  2. Gluteus maximus
  3. Gluteus medius
  4. Gluteus minimus
  5. Tensor fasciae latae
+ Show all

Overview

The gluteal muscles are the most superficial group of the posterior hip and thigh muscles. This muscle group consists of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae.

These four muscles fill the gluteal (buttock) region and provide it with shape and form. The gluteal region refers to the general region of the buttocks that is situated on the posterior aspect of the pelvic girdle. It is bounded anteriorly by the pelvic girdle, superiorly by the iliac crest and inferiorly by the gluteal folds.

Roughly speaking, all of the gluteal muscles have a common origin on the ilium and insertion on the femur, as well as their own additional attachments. They are also all innervated by branches of the sacral plexus. More specifically, the gluteus maximus is innervated by the inferior gluteal nerve, while the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae receive their nervous supply from the superior gluteal nerve.

The gluteal muscles are vascularized by branches of the internal iliac artery, namely the superior and inferior gluteal arteries. The exception is the tensor fasciae latae muscle, which receives blood supply from the ascending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery.

Learning the attachments, innervation and function of all the 600+ muscles in the body can look quite daunting. Learn the muscle facts faster with our muscle anatomy reference charts!

Gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial of the gluteal muscles, providing the majority of the shape to the buttock region. This muscle has a large site of origin, spanning across the thoracolumbar fascia, gluteal surface of the ilium, posterolateral aspect of the sacrum and coccyx, sacrotuberous ligament, and gluteal aponeurosis.

Its muscle fibers converge inferolaterally to insert on two sites: the upper, superficial portion of muscle fibers insert on the iliotibial tract, while the lower, deeper fibers insert on the gluteal tuberosity of the femur.

The gluteus maximus muscle receives its innervation from the inferior gluteal nerve (L5-S2), a branch of the sacral plexus. The blood supply to this muscle stems from the muscular branches of the inferior gluteal and superior gluteal arteries.

The main function of the gluteus maximus is to extend and abduct the thigh at the hip joint. It also assists in the external rotation and adduction of the thigh.

Gluteus medius

The gluteus medius is found deep to the gluteus maximus and superficial to the gluteus minimus. It originates on the gluteal surface of the ilium between the anterior and posterior gluteal lines. The muscle then descends anteroinferiorly to insert onto the lateral side of the greater trochanter of the femur.

The gluteus medius is innervated by the superior gluteal nerve (L4, S1), and vascularized by the deep branch of the superior gluteal artery.

The function of the gluteus medius is to abduct and internally rotate the thigh at the hip joint. The muscle also contributes to the stabilization of the pelvis and trunk during the gait cycle.

Gluteus minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest and deepest of the gluteal muscles. It arises on the gluteal surface of the ilium, between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines. The muscle descends anteroinferiorly to insert on the anterolateral aspect of the greater trochanter of the femur.

Just like the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus receives its nervous supply from the superior gluteal nerve (L4, S1), and its blood supply from the deep branch of the superior gluteal artery.

The gluteus minimus acts in synergy with the gluteus medius to abduct and internally rotate the thigh, and contributes to the stabilization of the pelvis.

Tensor fasciae latae

Tensor fasciae latae is a fusiform muscle located in the anterolateral aspect of the thigh. It originates from the outer lip of the anterior iliac crest and the anterior superior iliac spine. It then runs distally to insert on the fascia lata. The tensor fasciae latae, together with the gluteus maximus muscle and the gluteal aponeurosis, form a horizontal band known as the iliotibial tract. The iliotibial tract extends to insert onto the lateral condyle of the tibia and lateral patellar retinaculum.

The tensor fasciae latae is innervated by the superior gluteal nerve (L4, S1). Its blood supply stems from the ascending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery

The function of the tensor fasciae latae is to abduct the thigh at the hip joint, and to externally rotate the leg at the knee joint. Since the tensor fasciae latae crosses the hip and knee joints, it contributes to the stabilization of both.

Gluteal muscles: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

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