Gluteus Minimus – Functional Anatomy

Gluteus minimus is a fan-shaped muscle deep in the lateral hip.

It has two distinct heads. A thick head originates more anteriorly on the ilium and inserts closer to the joint capsule on the greater trochanter. It is stronger and better positioned to internally rotate the hip joint. A thin head originates more posteriorly and inserts more superiorly on the trochanter. It is better positioned to abduct and assist in lateral rotation.

Origin – lateral, inferior surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines.

Insertion – anterior border of the greater trochanter and may insert into the lateral hip joint capsule.

Function – Anatomists argue the function of the muscle. For instance, some see it as the primary abductor of the hip, others say that it only contributes to about 25% of abduction. It is largely agreed that it is one of the primary internal rotators and assists in lateral rotation. It is also observed as stabilizing the femoral head in the acetabulum.

It has a strong relationship with adductors in stabilizing the lateral motion, rotation and elevation of the pelvis.


In this translucent view, you can see how gluteus maximus and gluteus medius overlay gluteus minimus, piriformis, and deep rotators.

Piriformis and gluteus maximus trap the os coxae between the femur and sacrum. Piriformis twists the sacrum posteriorly from its anterior attachment on the sacrum. Gluteus maximus, with its attachment to the tibia via the IT band, also traps the femur between origin and insertion.

Gluteal configurations vary but in this lateral view of the typical gluteal layout, you can see several important relationships. Gluteus medius attaches on the superior aspect of the greater trochanter, making it a more effective abductor. The posterior belly of the gluteus minimus attaches to the superior aspect of the anterior greater trochanter making it a more effective internal rotator than medius. The anterior belly of the gluteus minimus attaches to the anterior greater trochanter very close to (or on) the joint capsule giving it better leverage for internal rotation and stabilizing flexion, especially when the hip is flexed, as when seated or running.


The Gluteus Quartus or Gluteus Scansorius is described in a small amount of literature but, according to one study, exists in over 40% of the population. It is described as originating somewhere along the anterior iliac spine and inserts on the trochanter somewhere between the gluteus minimus tendon and the joint capsule of the hip. It is positioned to adduct, flex and internally rotate the hip joint.



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