The gluteus minimus is a small muscle located in the hip. Of the three gluteal muscles it is the smallest and is located beneath the gluteus medius. Its primary action is to help abduct the thigh to stop it falling inwards when in use. An example of a daily activity that involves the muscle is getting out of a car.
The origin of the gluteus minimus is on the ilium’s surface. Compared to the gluteus medius the origin of the muscle is slightly lower down. It then runs outward and downward before attaching to the femur, which helps to give it control over abduction. The innvervation of the gluteus minimus is via the superior gluteal nerve. In shape, the gluteus minimus is like a fan rather than a straight muscle.
An example of a situation where the gluteus minimus is important is when standing on one leg. Without the muscle pulling outward, the knee and thigh would fall inward in a motion that creates extra rotational forces on the knee joint. During activities such as running the body is continuously on one leg and hence the gluteus minimus plays an essential role in many daily activities.
Aside from its primary action, the anterior part of the muscle also helps to inwardly rotate the thigh. This is performed with the help of a number of other muscles including the tensor fascia latae. To achieve this the trochanter is pulled forward.
Although the muscle is present in the vast majority of people there are some variations. For example, some people have a gluteus minimus, which is split into two different parts. There may also be slips to other muscles present including the quadriceps.
If the gluteus minimus is weak then it cannot support the thigh like it should. Along with the gluteus medius the muscle is essential for avoiding lower leg injuries. The gluetal muscles are often overlooked when it comes to lower leg and knee injuries but can make a big difference to the overall alignment of the body.
The two other gluteal muscles are much larger in size. For example, the gluteus maximus is the largest of the three and is used to extend the hip as well as to help in rotation. The gluteus medius muscle is smaller than the maximus and is used to help moderate the angle of the hips in relation to the horizontal plane.