Research Review: Gluteus Maximus: Superficial & Deep Fibers

By Stefanie DiCarrado DPT, NASM CPT & CES

Edited by Brent Brookbush DPT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Original Citation: Gibbons, S.G.T. (2004)  The anatomy of the deep sacral part of the gluteus maximus and the psoas muscle: A clinical perspective.  Proceeds of: The 5th interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back Pain.  November 7-11, Melbourne, Australia

Why is this relevant?: The gluteus maximus muscle is most often thought of as solely a powerful hip extensor and external rotator of the hip.  However, cadaver dissections has revealed a deep layer of the gluteus maximus that only crosses the sacroiliac joint (SIJ).  This may indicate that the gluteus maximus contribute more to SIJ and pelvic girdle stabilization than originally thought.

Study Summary:

Study Design Descriptive
Level of EvidenceLevel VI: Evidence from a single descriptive or qualitative study 
Subject Demographics

  • Age: NA
  • Gender: NA
  • Characteristics: 12 cadavers; 24 gluteus maximi dissected
Outcome Measures NA

  • General Fibrous Attachments: 16 of the dissected glutei had "fibrous attachements" to the lateral sacrum and iliac crest; the remaining 8 having strong fascial attachments continuous with the multifidi aponeurosis & fascia on the posterolateral sacrum
  • 3 Layers Identified: superficial sacral fibers, deep sacral fibers, deep ilium fibers
  • Superficial Sacral Fibers: Originated on the sacrum and predominately blended into the iliotibial band arranged in bands of 7-10 fascicles (a small number also attached to the gluteal tuberosity in 20 muscles)
  • Deep Ilium Fibers:  Predominately attached to the gluteal tuberosity in all muscles
  • Deep Sacral Fibers: Present in all muscles; these fibers only crossed the SIJ and were continuous with the fascia of the deep hip intrinsic muscles and ischiococcygeus muscle.

    • Superiorly: Fibers crossed the SIJ to the posterior pelvic brim (lateral to the