Hip Muscles: Anatomy, Support & Movement

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  • 0:05 Hip Muscles
  • 0:48 Gluteal Group
  • 2:11 Lateral Rotators
  • 2:45 Adductors
  • 3:28 Iliopsoas
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Simmons

John has taught college science courses face-to-face and online since 1994 and has a doctorate in physiology.

Did you know the gluteal muscles of the buttocks are among the strongest in the body? These muscles, along with other muscles, originate from the pelvic girdle and insert on the femur, producing movement of the thigh.

Hip Muscles

Intramuscular (IM) injections are administered into muscles; that's what the 'm' stands for. Healthcare providers will often select large muscles of the hip or pelvic girdle as injection sites. The muscles of the pelvic girdle are also responsible for moving the thigh - that is, the lower appendage from the hip down to the knee. This lesson will identify and describe the muscles that move the thigh based on the following categories: we have the gluteal group, the lateral rotator group, the adductor group and the iliopsoas group. Most of these muscles originate from the pelvic girdle and insert on the femur of the thigh.

The types of muscles found in the hip
Hip Muscles

Gluteal Group

The gluteal muscles include three pair of buttocks muscles, with one muscle of every pair located in each buttock. The gluteus maximus is so named as it's the largest of the three buttocks muscles. This muscle produces extension and lateral rotation of the thigh. This movement occurs when we stand up from a seated position.

Let's move on to the gluteus medius. It's deep to the maximus, and the gluteus minimus is deep to the medius. As their origin is more anterior, these muscles work together to produce abduction and medial rotation of the thigh. Some sources will include the tensor fasciae latae within the gluteal muscles, as its attachment and action are similar. It supports the knee and trunk on the thigh while assisting with abduction and medial rotation of the thigh. This muscle is unique in that it inserts on the iliotibial tract, a thickened portion of the fascia that ensheathes, or covers up, the muscles of the thigh. Abduction and medial rotation occur when we move our legs apart from one another during jumping jacks exercises.

Lateral Rotators

Some smaller muscles work with the gluteus maximus to perform lateral rotation of the thigh. If you peel away the gluteus maximus, you can see the deeper piriformis and the obturator muscles. In a seated position, move your legs so that the ankle of your right leg rests on the knee of your left leg. That's quite comfortable, isn't it? Notice that this movement causes the femur to rotate and point the knee laterally. This is lateral rotation.

Location of the piriformis and obturator muscles
Piriformis Obturator Rotators


Adduction is movement towards the midline, and adduction of the thigh is demonstrated when we move our legs together during those same jumping jacks exercises. These muscles originate from the pelvic girdle and insert on the medial surface of the femur. Due to these attachments, contraction of these muscles pulls the thigh towards the midline. These muscles include the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, pectineus and gracilis. When an athlete experiences a pulled groin, it is due to a strain in one or more of these adductor thigh muscles.

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