Hip and thigh
Take a look at these 3 different views of the hip and thigh, showing the superficial muscles.
Side view of hip and thigh
The side view of your hip and thigh shows:
- the iliac crest (top of the hip bone);
- gluteus maximus muscle – this muscle makes up most of the flesh of the buttock; its action extends the hip, bringing the thigh into a straight line with the pelvis;
- iliotibial band (ITB) – a band of strong fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh;
- tensor fasciae latae muscle – this contributes to hip flexion and rotation;
- vastus lateralis, and parts of the rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles (see below); and
- the patella (kneecap).
Front view of hip and thigh
From the front (anterior view), you can see the following.
- The anterior superior iliac spine (bony projection at the front of the hip bone).
- Most of the quadriceps muscles (rectus femoris and 2 of the 3 vastus muscles – vastus lateralis and vastus medialis) – together with the vastus intermedius muscle (not shown). These muscles create the flesh of the front of the thigh; they act together to extend the knee (e.g. to kick a football).
- Some of the hip flexor muscles (psoas major, iliacus and iliopsoas).
- Some of the adductor group of muscles (gracilis, pectineus and adductor longus) – this group adducts, or brings, the thighs together.
- Sartorius – this has only a weak action on the hip and is more involved in knee movement. It is the most superficial (closest to surface) thigh muscle, so can often be seen and felt.
Back view of hip and thigh
The back (posterior) view of the hip and thigh shows:
- the 3 hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus) – these muscles form most of the flesh of the back of the thigh; they flex the knee and extend the hip;
- gluteus maximus muscle (buttock); and
- gracilis, sartorius and plantaris muscles.
Last Reviewed: 21/04/2013
1. Netter F. Lower limb: Hip and thigh. Atlas of human anatomy. 2nd edn. East Hanover, NJ: Novartis; 1997: 458-61.
2. Marieb EN. Essentials of human anatomy and physiology. 9th edn. Benjamin Cummings, 2008.
3. Tortora GJ, Derrickson BH. Principles of anatomy and physiology. 11th edn. John Wiley, 2006.
Strength training exercises
Challenging your muscles with strength training exercises 2 or 3 times each week can improve the strength and tone of your muscles.
Stretching: an illustrated guide
Stretching exercises encourage lengthening of your muscles and their associated tendons, and oppose the shortening and tightening of muscles that can occur immediately after vigorous exercise, and as a product of ageing and inactivity.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (kneecap pain)
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is one of the most common disorders of the knee. Find out about the symptoms, causes and treatment.
Arthritis and surgery: hip replacement
For some people with arthritis, hip replacement surgery could mean the difference between leading a normal life or putting up with a debilitating condition.
Exercising and osteoarthritis
Exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness and increases flexibility, strength and endurance in people with arthritis. Four main types of exercise are recommended for people with arthritis.