The Glutes

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This article was edited and updated on November 9, 2015.

Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the drawing.)

The gluteus maximus is the largest and closest to the surface of the three gluteal muscles. This is the muscle that makes the buttocks look like it does. It is broad, thick and shaped like a quadrilateral.

The gluteus medius (smaller than the gluteus maximus) is also broad and thick and radiates out onto the outer surface of the pelvis. Part of it is covered by the gluteus maximus.

The gluteus minimus, as suggested by its name, is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles and is located directly beneath the gluteus medius (so therefore it is not seen in the drawing).

Origin and Insertion of these three muscles

As seen in the diagram above, the gluteal muscles all originate on the pelvis at various points and then insert on the femur (large thigh muscle).

Functions of the Gluteus Maximus, Medius, Minimus

Because of its size and power, the gluteus maximus is the primary hip extensor. It is not as significant in walking as it in powerful striding and jumping. In addition to hip extension, it assists in lateral rotation of the hip.

The gluteus medius is (1) involved in abduction of the hip; (2) helps to stabilize the pelvis during movement, and (3) assists in medial rotation.

The gluteus minimus abducts and medially rotates the thigh.

What Injuries can occur?

Any injury to the glutes — and the pain is often continuous — will interfere with one’s ability to walk, sit, or stand. Professional runners most often experience injury to at least one of these muscles, usually the gluteus maximus.

Injury may be avoided with a slow, deliberate ten-or-fifteen-minute warm-up before running. Most runners develop a good routine before they sprint.

An appropriate stretching session after running may also prevent injury, but it should be noted that sometimes over-stretching can tear and rip the muscle fibres as well. It seems appropriate to repeat that old aphorism: “Moderation in all things.”

Exercises to Consider

Stretches for The Glutes

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  2. If you cannot maintain proper form with this exercise because your arms are short, then do the Dumbbell Squat instead of this one.