The Gluteus Maximus (GM) muscle is the largest and most powerful in the human body. It plays an important role in the optimal functioning of the human movement system as well as athletic performance. It is, however, prone to inhibition and weakness which contributes to chronic pain, injury, and athletic under-performance.
The gluteus maximus is the large, wide, thick muscle at the surface of the buttocks. It originates at the ilium (the crest of the pelvic girdle, or hipbone) and at portions of the sacrum and coccyx, bones at the base of the spine. It stretches across and attaches to the iliotibial tract, a band of fibrous tissue extending from the ilium to the tibia (shinbone), and to the upper portion of the femur (thighbone). Its major action is an extension of the thigh, as in rising from a sitting position, running, or climbing. It also rotates the thigh outward.
Origin of Gluteus Maximus
Origin (Listed in order from superolateral-to-inferomedial & superficial-to-deep): Gluteal aponeurosis, posterior gluteal line of the ilium and portion of the bone superior and posterior to it, thoracolumbar fascia, aponeurosis of the erector spinae, long dorsal sacroiliac ligament, posterior surface of the lower part of the sacrum, sacrotuberous ligament, and the side of the coccyx.
- Posterior gluteal line of the ilium and portions of the bone superior and posterior to it.
- The posterior surface of the lower part of the sacrum .
- Side of the coccyx.
- Aponeurosis of erector spinae .
- Sacrotuberous ligament.
- Gluteal aponeurosis.
- Attaches to thoracolumbar and it`s associated raphe.By this attachment, Gluteus Maximus is coupled to the ipsilateral multifidus and contralateral Latissimus dorsi forming posterior oblique and deep longitudinal myofascial slings you can read more in details of these in the Anatomy Slings and Their Relationship to Low Back Pain.
- The larger proximal portion of the muscle and the superficial fibers of the distal portion of the muscle. The larger proximal portion, which forms three-quarters of the fibers inserts into the Iliotibial tract the other fibers insert indirectly by the lateral intermuscular septum into linea aspera of femur.
- The deeper fibers of the distal portion of the muscle form an aponeurosis which attaches to the gluteal tuberosity of the femur.
The gluteus maximus is supplied by the inferior gluteal nerve (root L5, S1, and S2). Cutaneous supply is mainly provided by L2 and 3.
Function of Gluteus Maximus
- Gluteus maximus main actions are to extend and laterally rotate the hip joint. Furthermore, upper fibers can abduct the hip whereas the lower fibers can adduct.
- As a powerful extensor of the hip joint, the gluteus maximus suited to powerful lower limb movements such as stepping onto a step, climbing or running but is not used greatly during normal walking. Gluteus maximus and the hamstrings work together to extend the trunk from a flexed position by pulling the pelvis backward, for example standing up from a bent forward position. Eccentric control is also provided when bending forward. Superior fibers of the gluteus maximus can extend the knee through its attachment to the iliotibial tract.
- Gluteus maximus has several stability roles: balancing the pelvis on femoral heads thus maintaining an upright posture, the attachment through the iliotibial tract supports the lateral knee, and lateral rotation of the femur when standing assists raising the medial longitudinal arch of the foot.
- Attachment of Glutes Maximus to the fascia of SIJ and it`s ligaments made the Glutes Maximus to become a contributing force in self _ bracing mechanism of SIJ.
- Gluteus maximus works to offload the ischial tuberosities when supporting body weight in sitting by static of dynamic contraction.
- If the gluteus maximus is paralyzed climbing stairs and running will become very difficult however, other muscles can extend the hip. Gluteus maximus can be trained to produce functional knee extension when quadriceps femoris is weak or paralyzed.
- Research has indicated that contraction of the deep abdominal muscles may assist with the contraction of gluteus maximus to assist with the control of anterior pelvic rotation. Gluteal muscle weakness has been proposed to be associated with a number of lower limb injuries.
The gluteus maximus is involved in a number of sports, from running to weight-lifting. A number of exercises focus on the gluteus maximus as well as other muscles of the upper leg.
- Hip thrusts
- Glute bridge
- Quadruped hip extensions
- Kettlebell swings
- Squats and variations like split squats, pistol squats and wide-stance lunges
- Deadlift (and variations)
- Reverse hyperextension
- Four-way hip extensions
- Glute-ham raise
Clinical Significance of Gluteus Maximus
Functional assessment can be useful in assessing injuries to the gluteus maximus and surrounding muscles. These tests include:
30-second chair to stand the test
This test measures a participant’s ability to stand up from a seated position as many times as possible in a thirty-second period of time.[rx] Testing the number of times a person can stand up in the thirty-second period helps assess strength, flexibility, pain, and endurance,[rx] which can help determine how far along a person is in rehabilitation, or how much work is still to be done.
Passive piriformis stretch.
The piriformis test measures flexibility of the gluteus maximus. This requires a trained professional and is based on the angle of external and internal rotation in relation to the normal range of motion without injury or impingement.