Orange County, California

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  • Greg Hodel

How are the gluteus muscles used in running?

The three gluteus muscles attach to the pelvis and the femur. The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are relatively small muscles that are involved in rotating and adducting the femur. They don’t have a major impact on running performance compared to the contribution of the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three and is the muscle that extends the femur. This is a major muscle used in running because it produces the necessary backward rotation of the thigh. When the gluteus maximus contracts, it accelerates the femur down and back which makes it possible for the foot to also accelerate before contacting the ground. The gluteus maximus also continues to rotate the femur backward contributing to the foot pushing down and backward while it is on the ground. If someone is a slow or awkward runner, the gluteus maximus may be passive during much of the stride. This may be due to an emphasis on the quadriceps being used to inefficiently move the body forward. When the quadriceps are the primary muscle being used, the gluteus maximus does not have the time or positioning to be activated.