Muscles Acting on the Hip and Femur

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Most muscles that act on the femur (table 10.17) originate on the os coxae. The two principal anterior muscles are the iliacus, which fills most of the broad iliac fossa of the pelvis, and the psoas major, a thick, rounded muscle that originates mainly on the lumbar vertebrae. Collectively, they are called the iliopsoas (ILL-ee-oh-SO-us) (fig. 10.30). They converge on a single tendon that inserts on the femur and flexes the hip joint—for example, when you bend forward at the waist, swing the leg forward in walking, or raise the thigh in a marching stance.

On the lateral and posterior sides of the hip are the tensor fasciae latae and three gluteal muscles—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus (figs. 10.31 and 10.34). The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle of this group and forms most of the mass of the buttocks. It is an extensor of the hip joint that produces the backswing of the leg in walking and provides most of the lift when you climb stairs. It generates the most force when the thigh is flexed at a 45° angle to the trunk. This is the advantage in starting a foot race from a crouched position.

_Think About It_

What muscles produce the downstroke in pedaling a bicycle? In view of this, what is one reason that racing bicycles are designed to make the rider lean forward?

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