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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify the appendicular muscles of the pelvic girdle and lower limb
  • Identify the movement and function of the pelvic girdle and lower limb

The appendicular muscles of the lower body position and stabilize the pelvic girdle    , which serves as a foundation for the lower limbs. Comparatively, there is much more movement at the pectoral girdle than at the pelvic girdle. There is very little movement of the pelvic girdle because of its connection with the sacrum at the base of the axial skeleton. The pelvic girdle is less range of motion because it was designed to stabilize and support the body.

Muscles of the thigh

What would happen if the pelvic girdle, which attaches the lower limbs to the torso, were capable of the same range of motion as the pectoral girdle? For one thing, walking would expend more energy if the heads of the femurs were not secured in the acetabula of the pelvis. The body’s center of gravity is in the area of the pelvis. If the center of gravity were not to remain fixed, standing up would be difficult as well. Therefore, what the leg muscles lack in range of motion and versatility, they make up for in size and power, facilitating the body’s stabilization, posture, and movement.

Gluteal region muscles that move the femur

Most muscles that insert on the femur (the thigh bone) and move it, originate on the pelvic girdle. The psoas major    and iliacus    make up the iliopsoas group    . Some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body are the gluteal muscles or gluteal group    . The gluteus maximus    is the largest; deep to the gluteus maximus is the gluteus medius    , and deep to the gluteus medius is the gluteus minimus    , the smallest of the trio ( [link] and [link] ).

Hip and thigh muscles

The left panel shows the superficial pelvic and thigh muscles, the center panel shows the deep pelvic and thigh muscles. The right panel shows the posterior view of the pelvic and thigh muscles.
The large and powerful muscles of the hip that move the femur generally originate on the pelvic girdle and insert into the femur. The muscles that move the lower leg typically originate on the femur and insert into the bones of the knee joint. The anterior muscles of the femur extend the lower leg but also aid in flexing the thigh. The posterior muscles of the femur flex the lower leg but also aid in extending the thigh. A combination of gluteal and thigh muscles also adduct, abduct, and rotate the thigh and lower leg.

Gluteal region muscles that move the femur

This table describes gluteal region muscles that move the femur. These muscles make up the iliopsoas group. The psoas major raises the knee at the hip, as if performing a knee attack; it also assists the lateral rotators in twisting the thigh (and lower leg) outward, and assists with bending over and maintaining posture. It originates in the lumbar vertebrae (L1 through L5) and thoracic vertebra (T12). The iliacus raises the knee at the hip, as if performing a knee attack; it also assists the lateral rotators in twisting the thigh (and lower leg) outward, and assists with bending over and maintaining posture. It originates in the iliac fossa, iliac crest, and lateral sacrum. These muscles make up the gluteal group. The gluteous maximus lowers the knee and moves the thigh back, as when getting ready to kick a ball. It originates in the dorsal ilium, sacrum, and coccyx. The gluteus medius opens the thigh, as when doing a split. It originates in the lateral surface of the ilium. The gluteus minimus brings the thighs back together. It originates in the external surface of the ilium. The tensor fascia lata assists with raising the knee at the hip and opening the thighs; it also maintains posture by stabilizing the iliotibial track, which connects to the knee. It originates in the anterior aspect of the iliac crest and the anterior superior iliac spine. These muscles make up the lateral rotators. The piriformis twists the thigh (and lower leg) outward; it also maintains posture by stabilizing the hip joint. It originates in the anterolateral surface of the sacrum. The obturator internus twists the thigh (and lower leg) outward; it also maintains posture by stabilizing the hip joint. It originates in the inner surface of the obturator membrane, the greater sciatic notch, and the margins of the obturator foramen. The superior gemellus twists the thigh (and lower leg) outward; it also maintains posture by stabilizing the hip joint. It originates in the ischial spine. The inferior gemellus twists the thigh (and lower leg) outward; it also maintains posture by stabilizing the hip joint. It originates in the ischial tuberosity. The quatratus femoris twists the thigh (and lower leg) outward; it also maints posture by stabilizing the hip joint. It originates in the ischial tuberosity. These muscles are adductors. The adductor longus brings the thighs back together; it also assists with raising the knee. It originates in the pubis near the pubic symphysis. The adductor brevis brings the thighs back together; it also assists with raising the knee. It originates in teh body of the pubis and in the inferior ramus of the pubis. The adductor magnus brings the thighs back together; it also assists with raising the knee and moving the thigh back. It originates in the ischial rami, the pubic rami, and the ischial tuberosity. The pectineus opens the thigh; it also assists with raising the knee and turning the thigh (and lower leg) inward. It originates in the pectineal line of the pubis.

The tensor fascia latae is a thick, squarish muscle in the superior aspect of the lateral thigh. It acts as a synergist of the gluteus medius and iliopsoas in flexing and abducting the thigh. It also helps stabilize the lateral aspect of the knee by pulling on the iliotibial tract    (band), making it taut. Deep to the gluteus maximus, the piriformis    , obturator internus    , obturator externus    , superior gemellus    , inferior gemellus    , and quadratus femoris    laterally rotate the femur at the hip.

The adductor longus    , adductor brevis    , and adductor magnus    can both medially and laterally rotate the thigh depending on the placement of the foot. The adductor longus flexes the thigh, whereas the adductor magnus extends it. The pectineus    adducts and flexes the femur at the hip as well. The pectineus is located in the femoral triangle    , which is formed at the junction between the hip and the leg and also includes the femoral nerve, the femoral artery, the femoral vein, and the deep inguinal lymph nodes.

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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