Gluteal muscles

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 25 Aug 2021

The superficial gluteal muscles lie within the gluteal region posterolateral to the bony pelvis and proximal femur. From superficial to deep lie the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The gluteus maximus is an important muscle for hip extension and lateral rotation. Gluteus medius and minimus are hip abductors and medial rotators.

  • origin
  • insertion
    • gluteus maximus: gluteal tuberosity of femur, iliotibial tract
    • gluteus medius and minimus: greater trochanter of femur
  • innervation
  • action
    • gluteus maximus: hip extension, lateral rotation
    • gluteal medius and minimus: hip abduction, medial rotation

Gluteus maximus is a thick flat sheet of muscle sloping from the pelvis down across the buttock at 45°. Gluteus medius is a fan-shaped muscle with its posterior third lying deep to the gluteus maximus. Gluteus minimus is the smallest and deepest of the muscles, lying under the cover of the gluteus medius with their anterior borders lying edge to edge from origin to insertion.

  • gluteus maximus arises from the gluteal surface of the ilium, behind the posterior gluteal line, and the lumbar fascia, lateral mass of sacrum, and sacrotuberous ligament
  • gluteus medius arises from the gluteal surface of the ilium between the posterior and anterior gluteal lines
  • gluteus minimus arises from the gluteal surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines
  • gluteus maximus inserts onto the gluteal tuberosity of the femur and iliotibial tract
  • gluteus medius inserts onto the posterolateral surface of the greater trochanter
  • gluteus minimus inserts onto the anterior surface of the greater trochanter
  • anterior and medial: ilium
  • deep and inferior: sciatic nerve
  • superior and inferior gluteal veins
  • gluteus maximus extends the flexed thigh at the hip joint. Also stabilizes the knee and hip joint via its attachment to the iliotibial tract.
  • gluteus medius and minimus abduct the hip joint. Anterior fibers medially rotate the thigh.
  • gluteus quartus is a rare muscle arising between gluteus medius and minimus
  • fusion of the gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: gluteal muscles (Gray's illustration)
    Drag here to reorder.
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