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Hip Function: Posterior Muscles

Yesterday I wrote about the hip muscles on the front of the body (anterior muscles). Today, I’m going to introduce the hip muscles on the back of the body (posterior muscles). The superficial muscles (close to the skin) are large and powerful. The deep muscles (close to the bone) are smaller and less powerful.

Gluteus Maximus When you and I talk, we usually just call the gluteus maximus the “butt”. This muscle has many functions, but is most powerful when standing up from a squatting position. Biceps Femoris As you can see in the picture above, this muscle has two heads–both attached to the femur. As the heads course downward toward the knee, their tendons merge and attach to the shin bones. Only the long head, attached to the pelvis, moves the hip. It is active in extension of the femur. Semitendinosus This muscle is an extensor of the hip, but also helps with knee flexion after it crosses the knee joint. Semimembranosus This muscle is similar to the semitendinosus, as its function is hip extension.

Deep Posterior Muscles

The deeper posterior hip muscles act as rotators of the hip, rotating the femur and leg from a toes-forward to a toes-out position. The most superior of the muscles can also contribute to abduction.

Piriformis This is a small, pyramid-shaped muscle that attaches to the spine (at the sacrum). The piriformis functions in lateral rotation of the femur and contributes to abduction. Superior Gemellus This muscle, which also attaches to the spine, rotates the femur laterally (externally rotation). Obturator Internus This muscle helps the piriformis and both gemelli muscles externally rotate the femur. Inferior Gemellus This is the larger of the two gemelli, but has the same function as the superior muscle. Quadratus Femoris This muscle has two functions: external rotation and adduction of the femur. Tyler *Images and text inspired by this journal publication. WOD 50-40-30-20-10 Jumping Lunges Sit-Ups

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