Exploring the gluteus maximus muscle
The gluteus maximus muscle, and the gluteal muscles in general, are a group of powerful movers of the femur. There are three gluteal muscles: gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus. Gluteus maximus is the largest, most powerful, and most superficial of the gluteal muscles. It’s a key muscle for many powerful, big movements.
What does gluteus maximus mean?
“Gluteus” comes from the Greek word “gloutos” which means “buttocks”. This tells us something about where these three muscles are located. The second word in each muscle name tells us something about the size of each of these “Gluteus” muscles relative to one another. Maximus is the Latin word for “greatest”. Gluteus maximus, is the largest of the buttocks muscles.
Where does this muscle attach?
Specifically, it originates on the posterior sacrum, posterior ilium, and superior gluteal line. The ilium is the bone on the lateral (outside) of the pelvis. Remember that the gluteal lines are bumpy lines on the outer surface of the pelvis.
It inserts on the gluteal tuberosity and the iliotibial band (referred to as the IT band). Gluteus maximus is one of the two muscles that inserts onto the iliotibial band (ITB), a tendinous sheet that extends from the ilium to the lateral condyle of the tibia. (The tensor fascia latae, which we’ll cover in a future post is the other muscle that inserts into the IT band.)
What actions does the gluteus maximus muscle do?
Gluteus maximus acts to extend the thigh at the hip joint. It can also laterally rotate the femur when the hip is extended.
Poses where this muscle contracts
Shalabhasana is one place where we are strongly trying to extend the hip joint using this muscle, so this is a good place to see it contract.
Poses where this muscle is lengthened
Paschimottanasana is a simple way to lengthen this muscle, but it’s effective. Remember, this muscle is an extensor. It’s lengthened because we are flexing the hip joint.