The gluteus muscles are a collection of muscles that make up the buttock/hip region. There are 3 gluteal muscles, the maximums, minimus and medius. Each have unique aspects that contribute to movement, and proper strength and mobility in this area can be imperative to aid in back pain, hip pain, knee pain and even pelvic floor issues.
Gluteus Maximus: This is the largest and outermost muscle of this group. It makes up most of the shape of the buttocks and hip area, so if you want to grow your booty, we need to know about this muscle! Part of why it is the size it is, is to help keep us standing up straight. It starts at the gluteal surface of the ilium, lumbar facsica, sacrum and the sacrotuberus ligament. It inserts on the gluteal tuberosity of the femur as well as the IT band. The blood supply comes from the superior and inferior gluteal arteries, and the nerve is the inferior gluteal nerve (which comes from L5, S1 and S2 nerve roots). This muscle works to externally rotate the hip, as well as extend it. It helps support the knee through its connection to the IT band, as well as supports sitting as an antigravitiy muscle.
Gluteus Minimus: As the name implies, this is the smallest of the glute group. It lies underneath the glut medius, and is a fan shaped muscle. It starts on the illium, between the anterior and inferior gluteal line and under glut medius. It inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. Blood comes from the superior gluteal arter, and the innveration is from the superior gluteal nerve (L4, L5 and S1 nerve roots). There is also a bursa (a sac to aid in friction reduction) between its tendon and the femur attachement. Glut minimus works in concert with its brother, glute medius to abduct the hip, prevent hip adduction and internally rotates the thigh.
Gluteus Medius: This muscle sits between the two above. It begins on the gluteal surface of the illium and inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. Blood comes from the superior gluteal arter and the nerve that innverates it is the superior gluteal nerve (L4, L5, S1 nerve roots). This muscle works to abduct the hip and prevents the opposite action of adduction. It also supports internal rotation and flexion of the hip, as well as extension and external rotation depending on which fibers are firing.
Image from InsyncPhysio
As you can notice from above, the glutes are all similar in what they do. But sometimes only one or two of them will be working correctly!
When Glutes Go Bad
Some examples of when the glutes aren’t working correctly include:
Inappropriate firing in extension. This means that when you go to extend your hip, or lift your leg backwards, instead of the glutes firing first and getting things going, your lumbar muscles do most of the work. This can cause anterior pelvic tilts, pressure on the spinal joints and tightness and pain throughout the lumbar spine.
Glute medius and minimus go weak. Along with piriformis, these muscles are important in hip stabilization. If there is tightness and weakness here, you can get altered walking patterns, and hip dip inwards.
Imbalances can lead to pelvic tilts (either anterior or posterior) that can lead to biomechanic stress and pain. These muscles are also susceptible to tendonopathy and strains/sprains like other muscles of the body.
So what can you do about it?
Having someone test the strength and tightness of these muscles, as well as functionally assess you can be imperative to getting treatment that will address the problem
If the pelvic joints, lumbar joints, and even the hip and knee joints aren’t moving as they should, it can add strain to the glute muscles as they try to make up for lost ground.
Massage and Acupuncture
Sometimes stretching can only get you so far, having a massage therapist work the muscles for you or an acupuncturist aid in tightness and inflammation can give you the jump start your’re looking for!
These muscles need functional strength! Some great places to start include:
Single leg RDL
So there you have it! The gluteus muscles. If you need help in figuring out if these muscles need work or not, come on into the clinic and let's chat! Online booking is easy at www.mph-health.com