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The Gluteus Maximus Muscle - want to learn more about it?

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The Gluteus Maximus Muscle

The gluteus maximus muscle is the largest of three gluteal muscles (other two are gluteus medius muscle and gluteus minimus muscle). By laying over the gluteus medius and minius muscles, it builds the most superficial layer of the dorsal gluteal musculature and thus forms the surface anatomy of the gluteal region.

It is the main extensor muscle of the hip , which significantly contributes maintaining the trunk in the erect posture. For this reason, primates that can not sustain standing erectly, have much flatter hips.

Key facts about gluteus maxiumus muscle
Origin

Lateroposterior surface of sacrum and coccyx
Gluteal surface of ilium(behind posterior gluteal line)

Thoracolumbar fascia

Sacrotuberousligament

Insertion

Iliotibial tract

Gluteal tuberosity of femur

Innervation Inferior gluteal nerve (L5, S1, S2)
Function

Hip joint:

Thigh extension
Thigh external rotation
Thigh abduction (superior part)

Thigh adduction (inferior part)

This article will discuss the anatomy and significance of the gluteus maximus muscle.

Anatomy and supply

The muscle originates from the sacrum (posterior part), ilium (behind the posterior gluteal line), the thoracolumbar fascia and the sacrotuberous ligament.

Its inferiormost fibers insert at the gluteal tuberosity of the femur. On the contrary, the more superior fibers go over into the iliotibial tract, a strong fibrous band at the outside of the thigh inserting at the lateral condyle at the tibia. The gluteal fold (or crease) does not represent the lower margin of the muscle but rather results from an arcuate enhancement of the fascia.

The innervation is supplied by the inferior gluteal nerve, a branch of the sacral plexus (L5-S2). Numerous vessels and nerves run under the gluteus maximus muscle, including the sciatic nerve, the pudendal nerve and the superior gluteal vessels.

Want an easy way to revise the innervation, functions and attachments of the gluteus maximus muscle? Look no further than our lower limb muscle anatomy chart. 

Function

The gluteus maximus muscle is the most powerful extensor and external rotator of the hip. Furthermore it supports the stabilization of the hip joint. The contraction of the superior part of the muscle leads to abduction whereas the contraction of the inferior part causes an adduction. The iliotibial tract enhances the lateral thigh fascia and thus relieves the pressure of the femur (tension band principle).

Recommended video: Gluteus maximus muscle
Attachments, innervation and functions of the gluteus maximus muscle.

Clinic

Lesions of the inferior gluteal nerve (e.g. through traumas, hernias or pelvic tumors) may lead to functional deficiency of the gluteus maximus muscle.

The affected patients have tremendous difficulties walking up the stairs or standing up from the chair. The standing position itself however is commonly without pathological findings as it is usually compensated by the ischiocrural musculature.

Purulent inflammations underneath the gluteus maximus muscle often remain unnoticed and may spread into neighboring structures (sinking abscess). Because of that and the high risk of nerve or vessel injury an intramuscular injection is not to be administered into the gluteus maximus muscle. The choice of injection site should be preferably the gluteus medius muscle.

The Gluteus Maximus Muscle - 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.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,133,010 successful anatomy students.

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

Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1. Auflage, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), S. 77-79
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2. Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S. 472-473
  • W. Graumann/ D. Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S. 135-137
  • J. Fanghänel/F. Pera/F. Anderhuber/R. Nitsch: Waldeyer – Anatomie des Menschen, 17. Auflage, Walter de Gruyter (2003), S. 1182-1184
  • W. Gehlen/H.-W. Delank: Neurologie, 12. Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2010), S.127

Author & Layout:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy
  • Christopher A. Becker

Illustrators:

  • Gluteus Maximus Muscle - Liene Znotina 
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

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