UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Muscles of the Lower Limb

Gross Anatomy


Muscles of the Lower Limb - Listed Alphabetically

Muscle Origin Insertion Action Innervation Artery Notes
abductor digiti minimi (foot) medial and lateral sides of the tuberosity of the calcaneus lateral side of the base of the proximal phalanx of the 5th digit abducts the 5th toe; flexes the metatarsophalageal joint lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. abductor digiti minimi forms the lateral margin of the sole of the foot
abductor hallucis medial side of the tuberosity of calcaneus medial side of the base of the proximal phalanx of the great toe (hallux) abducts the great toe; flexes the metatarsophalageal joint medial plantar nerve medial plantar a. abductor hallucis forms the medial margin of the sole of the foot
adductor brevis inferior pubic ramus pectineal line and linea aspera (deep to the pectineus and adductor longus mm.) adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the femur anterior division of the obturator nerve obturator a., deep femoral a. anterior and posterior divisions of the obturator nerve lie on the anterior and posterior surfaces of adductor brevis
adductor hallucis oblique head: bases of metatarsals 2-4; transverse head: heads of metatarsals 3-5 lateral side of base of the proximal phalanx of the great toe adducts the great toe (moves it toward midline of the foot; i.e.toward the 2nd digit) deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve plantar arterial arch the plantar arterial arch passes superior to the oblique head of adductor hallucis
adductor longus medial portion of the superior pubic ramus linea aspera of the femur adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the femur anterior division of the obturator nerve obturator a., deep femoral a. the most anterior of the adductor group of muscles
adductor magnus ischiopubic ramus and ischial tuberosity linea aspera of the femur; the ischiocondylar part inserts on the adductor tubercle of the femur adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the femur; extends the femur (ischiocondylar part) posterior division of the obturator nerve; tibial nerve (ischiocondylar part) obturator a., deep femoral a., medial femoral circumflex a. the ischiocondylar part of adductor magnus is a hamstring muscle by embryonic origin and action, so it is innervated by the tibial nerve
adductor minimus lower portion of the inferior pubic ramus gluteal ridge and upper part of the linea aspera of the femur adducts and laterally rotates the femur posterior division of the obturator nerve obturator a., medial femoral circumflex a., deep femoral a. adductor minimus m. is the uppermost fibers of the adductor magnus m.
articularis genu anterior surface of the femur above the patellar surface articular capsule of the knee elevates the articular capsule of the knee joint femoral nerve descending genicular a. articularis genu is formed by muscle fascicles deep to the vastus intermedius m.
biceps femoris long head: ischial tuberosity; short head: lateral lip of the linea aspera head of fibula and lateral condyle of the tibia extends the thigh, flexes the leg long head: tibial nerve; short head: common fibular (peroneal) nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. one of the "hamstring" muscles
dorsal interosseous (foot) shafts of adjacent metatarsal bones bases of the proximal phalanges for digit 2 (both sides) & digits 3,4 (lateral side) abduct digits 2-4 (move these digits away from midline as defined by a plane passing through the 2nd digit); flex the metatarsophalangeal joints and extend the interphalangeal joints of those digits deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve dorsal metatarsal aa. four in number; remember DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct) and PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct), then logic can tell you where these muscles insert
extensor digitorum brevis superolateral surface of the calcaneus extensor expansion of toes 1-4 extends toes 1-4 deep fibular (peroneal) nerve dorsalis pedis a. the part of the extensor digitorum brevis that goes to the great toe is called the extensor hallucis brevis m.
extensor digitorum longus lateral condyle of the tibia, anterior surface of the fibula, lateral portion of the interosseous membrane dorsum of the lateral 4 toes via extensor expansions (central slip inserts on base of middle phalanx, lateral slips on base of distal phalanx) extends the metatarsophalangeal, proximal interphalangeal and distal interphalangeal joints of the lateral 4 toes deep fibular (peroneal) nerve anterior tibial a. one of the muscles involved in anterior compartment syndrome
extensor hallucis brevis superolateral surface of the calcaneus dorsum of base of proximal phalanx of the great toe extends the great toe deep fibular (peroneal) nerve dorsalis pedis a. usually considered to be the medial-most part of the extensor digitorum brevis m.
extensor hallucis longus middle half of the anterior surface of the fibula and the interosseous membrane base of the distal phalanx of the great toe extends the metatarsophalangeal interphalangeal joints of the great toe deep fibular (peroneal) nerve anterior tibial a. one of the muscles involved in anterior compartment syndrome
fibularis (peroneus) brevis lower one third of the lateral surface of the fibula tuberosity of the base of the 5th metatarsal extends (plantar flexes) and everts the foot superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve fibular (peroneal) a. stress fracture of the base of the 5th metatarsal bone is a common runner's injury
fibularis (peroneus) longus upper two/thirds of the lateral surface of the fibula after crossing the plantar surface of the foot deep to the intrinsic muscles, it inserts on the medial cuneiform and the base of the 1st metatarsal bone extends (plantar flexes) and everts the foot superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve fibular (peroneal) a. fibularis longus lies superficial to the fibularis brevis m. in the lateral compartment of the leg
fibularis (peroneus) tertius distal part of the anterior surface of the fibula dorsum of the shaft of the 5th metatarsal bone everts the foot deep fibular (peroneal) nerve anterior tibial a. fibularis tertius is in the anterior compartment of the leg, not the lateral compartment (which contains fibularis longus and brevis)
flexor digiti minimi brevis (foot) base of 5th metatarsal bone lateral side of base of proximal phalanx of 5th digit flexes the metatarsophalangeal joint of the 5th digit lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. none
flexor digitorum brevis tuberosity of the calcaneus, plantar aponeurosis, intermuscular septae base of the middle phalanx of digits 2-5 after splitting to allow passage of the flexor digitorum longus tendons flexes the metatarsophalangeal & proximal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5 medial plantar nerve medial and lateral plantar aa. flexor digitorum brevis in the foot is equivalent to the flexor digitorum superficialis m. of the arm
flexor digitorum longus middle half of the posterior surface of the tibia bases of the distal phalanges of digits 2-5 flexes the metatarsophalangeal, proximal interphalangeal and distal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5; plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve tibial a. flexor digitorum longus in the leg is equivalent to the flexor digitorum profundus m. of the arm
flexor hallucis brevis cuboid, lateral cuneiform, medial side of the first metatarsal medial belly: medial side of proximal phalanx of the great toe; lateral belly: lateral side of the proximal phalanx of the great toe flexes the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe medial plantar nerve (lateral belly occasionally receives innervation from the lateral plantar nerve) medial plantar a. each tendon of insertion contains a sesamoid bone
flexor hallucis longus lower 2/3 of the posterior surface of the fibula base of the distal phalanx of the great toe flexes the metatarsophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints of the great toe; plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve fibular (peroneal) a. and tibial a. flexor hallucis longus is very important in the "push off" part of the normal gait
gastrocnemius femur; medial head: above the medial femoral condyle; lateral head: above the lateral femoral condyle dorsum of the calcaneus via the calcaneal (Achilles') tendon flexes leg; plantar flexes foot tibial nerve sural aa. (from the popliteal a.), posterior tibial a. the calcaneal tendon of the gastrocnemius and soleus is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body
gemellus, inferior ischial tuberosity obturator internus tendon laterally rotates the femur nerve to the quadratus femoris m. inferior gluteal a. gemellus is a Latin word that means "little twin"
gemellus, superior ischial spine obturator internus tendon laterally rotates the femur nerve to the obturator internus m. inferior gluteal a. gemellus is a Latin word that means "little twin"
gluteus maximus posterior gluteal line, posterior surface of sacrum and coccyx, sacrotuberous ligament upper fibers: iliotibial tract; lowermost fibers: gluteal tuberosity of the femur extends the thigh; laterally rotates the femur inferior gluteal nerve superior and inferior gluteal aa. gluteus maximus is a site of intramuscular injection
gluteus medius external surface of the ilium between the posterior and anterior gluteal lines greater trochanter of the femur abducts the femur; medially rotates the thigh superior gluteal nerve superior gluteal a. the angle at which the gluteus medius tendon approaches the greater trochanter of the femur is anterior to the axis of rotation of the thigh, resulting in medial rotation
gluteus minimus external surface of the ilium between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines greater trochanter of the femur abducts the femur; medially rotates the thigh superior gluteal nerve superior gluteal a. the angle at which the gluteus minimus tendon approaches the greater trochanter of the femur is anterior to the axis of rotation of the thigh, resulting in medial rotation
gracilis pubic symphysis and the inferior pubic ramus medial surface of the tibia (via pes anserinus) adducts the thigh, flexes and medially rotates the thigh, flexes the leg anterior division of the obturator nerve obturator a. the pes anserinus is the common insertion of the gracilis, sartorius, and semitendinosus mm.
iliacus iliac fossa and iliac crest; ala of sacrum lesser trochanter of the femur flexes the thigh; if the thigh is fixed it flexes the pelvis on the thigh femoral nerve iliolumbar a. inserts in company with the psoas major m. via the iliopsoas tendon
iliopsoas iliac fossa; bodies and transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae lesser trochanter of the femur flexes the thigh; flexes and laterally bends the lumbar vertebral column branches of the ventral primary rami of spinal nerves L2-L4; branches of the femoral nerve iliolumbar a. a combination of the iliacus and psoas major mm.
inferior gemellus ischial tuberosity obturator internus tendon laterally rotates the femur nerve to the quadratus femoris m. inferior gluteal a. gemellus is a Latin word that means "little twin"
interosseous, dorsal (foot) shafts of adjacent metatarsal bones bases of the proximal phalanges for digit 2 (both sides) & digits 3,4 (lateral side) abduct digits 2-4 (move these digits away from midline as defined by a plane passing through the 2nd digit); flex the metatarsophalangeal joints and extend the interphalangeal joints of those digits deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve dorsal metatarsal aa. four in number; remember DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct) and PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct), then logic can tell you where these muscles insert
interosseous, plantar base and medial side of metatarsals 3-5 bases of proximal phalanges and extensor expansions of digits 3-5 adduct digits 3-5 (move these digits toward the midline of the foot as defined by a plane through the second digit); flex the metacarpophalangeal and extend interphalangeal joints of digits 3-5 deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve plantar metatarsal aa. remember PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct) and DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct), and logic will tell you where these muscles must insert
lumbricals (foot) tendons of the flexor digitorum longus medial side of the extensor expansion of digits 2-5 flex the metatarsophalangeal joint, extend the proximal interphalangeal & distal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5 medial (1st) lumbrical: medial plantar nerve; lateral three lumbricals: lateral plantar nerve medial and lateral plantar aa. the lumbricals of the foot have the same action on the toes that the lumbricals in the hand have on the fingers
obturator externus the external surface of the obturator membrane and the superior and inferior pubic rami trochanteric fossa of the femur laterally rotates the thigh obturator nerve obturator a. the tendon of the obturator externus m. passes inferior to the neck of the femur to reach its insertion site
obturator internus the internal surface of the obturator membrane and margin of the obturator foramen greater trochanter on its medial surface above the trochanteric fossa laterally rotates and abducts the thigh nerve to the obturator internus m. obturator a. the obturator internus m. leaves the pelvis by passing through the lesser sciatic foramen; the superior and inferior gemellus mm. insert on the obturator internus tendon
pectineus pecten of the pubis pectineal line of the femur adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the thigh femoral nerve and possibly the anterior division of the obturator nerve medial femoral circumflex a. pectineus often has a dual innervation
peroneus mm. (SEE fibularis mm.)   peroneus is the old terminology used for the fibularis mm.
piriformis anterior surface of sacrum upper border of greater trochanter of femur laterally rotates and abducts thigh ventral rami of S1-S2   piriformis leaves the pelvis by passing through the greater sciatic foramen
plantar interosseous base and medial side of metatarsals 3-5 bases of proximal phalanges and extensor expansions of digits 3-5 adduct digits 3-5 (move these digits toward the midline of the foot as defined by a plane through the second digit); flex the metacarpophalangeal and extend interphalangeal joints of digits 3-5 deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve plantar metatarsal aa. remember PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct) and DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct), and logic will tell you where these muscles must insert
plantaris above the lateral femoral condyle (above the lateral head of gastrocnemius) dorsum of the calcaneus medial to the calcaneal tendon flexes the leg; plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve popliteal a. plantaris has a long slender tendon that is equivalent to the tendon of the palmaris longus m. of the arm; its tendon is often called the "freshman nerve" because it is often misidentified by the freshman medical student
popliteus lateral condyle of the femur posterior surface of the tibia above soleal line flexes and rotates the leg medially (with the foot planted, it rotates the thigh laterally) tibial nerve popliteal a. has a round tendon of origin; popliteus unlocks the knee joint to initiate flexion of the leg
psoas major bodies and transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae lesser trochanter of femur (with iliacus) via iliopsoas tendon flexes the thigh; flexes & laterally bends the lumbar vertebral column branches of the ventral primary rami of spinal nerves L2-L4 subcostal a., lumbar aa. the genitofemoral nerve pierces the anterior surface of the psoas major m.
psoas minor bodies of the T12 & L1 vertebrae iliopubic eminence at the line of junction of the ilium and the superior pubic ramus flexes & laterally bends the lumbar vertebral column branches of the ventral primary rams of spinal nerves L1-L2 lumbar aa. absent in 40% of cases
quadratus femoris lateral border of the ischial tuberosity quadrate line of the femur below the intertrochanteric crest laterally rotates the thigh nerve to the quadratus femoris m. inferior gluteal a. the nerve to the quadratus femoris m. also innervates the inferior gemellus m.
quadratus plantae anterior portion of the calcaneus and the long plantar ligament tendons of the flexor digitorum longus m. assists the flexor digitorum longus in flexing the toes lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. the quadratus plantae m. changes the line of force of the flexor digitorum longus m. to bring it in line with the long axis of the foot
quadriceps femoris anterior surface of the femur and the anterior side of the medial and lateral intermuscular septa tibial tuberosity via the patellar ligament extends the knee; rectus femoris flexes the thigh femoral nerve lateral circumflex femoral a., deep femoral a. composed of 4 muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis
rectus femoris straight head: anterior inferior iliac spine; reflected head: above the superior rim of the acetabulum patella and tibial tuberosity (via the patellar ligament) extends the leg, flexes the thigh femoral nerve lateral circumflex femoral a. rectus femoris is part of the quadriceps femoris muscle
sartorius anterior superior iliac spine medial surface of the tibia (pes anserinus) flexes, abducts and laterally rotates the thigh; flexes leg femoral nerve lateral femoral circumflex a., saphenous a. sartorius means "tailor"; its actions put the lower limb in the traditional cross-legged seated position of a tailor
semimembranosus upper, outer surface of the ischial tuberosity medial condyle of the tibia extends the thigh, flexes the leg tibial nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. one of the "hamstring" muscles
semitendinosus lower, medial surface of ischial tuberosity (common tendon with biceps femoris m.) medial surface of tibia (via pes anserinus) extends the thigh, flexes the leg tibial nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. pes anserinus is the common insertion for the gracilis, sartorius, and semitendinosus mm.
soleus posterior surface of head and upper shaft of the fibula, soleal line of the tibia dorsum of the calcaneus via the calcaneal (Achilles') tendon plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve posterior tibial a. soleus, gastrocnemius, and plantaris mm. are sometimes called the triceps surae muscle
superior gemellus ischial spine obturator internus tendon laterally rotates the femur nerve to the obturator internus m. inferior gluteal a. gemellus is a Latin word that means "little twin"
tensor fasciae latae anterior part of the iliac crest, anterior superior iliac spine iliotibial tract flexes, abducts, and medially rotates the thigh superior gluteal nerve superior gluteal a. tensor fascia latae redirects the rotational forces of the gluteus maximus m.
tibialis anterior lateral tibial condyle and the upper lateral surface of the tibia medial surface of the medial cuneiform and the 1st metatarsal dorsiflexes and inverts the foot deep fibular (peroneal) nerve anterior tibial a. acts as both an antagonist (dorsiflexion/plantar flexion) and a synergist (inversion) of the tibialis posterior m.
tibialis posterior interosseous membrane, posteromedial surface of the fibula, posterolateral surface of the tibia tuberosity of the navicular and medial cuneiform, metatarsals 2-4 plantar flexes the foot; inverts the foot tibial nerve fibular (peroneal) a. and tibial a. acts as both an antagonist (dorsiflexion/plantar flexion) and a synergist (inversion) of the tibialis anterior m.
vastus intermedius anterior and lateral surface of the femur patella extends the leg femoral nerve lateral femoral circumflex a. vastus intermedius is part of the quadriceps femoris muscle
vastus lateralis lateral intermuscular septum, lateral lip of the linea aspera and the gluteal tuberosity patella and medial patellar retinaculum extends leg femoral nerve lateral femoral circumflex a., perforating branches of the deep femoral a. vastus lateralis is part of the quadriceps femoris muscle
vastus medialis medial intermuscular septum, medial lip of the linea aspera patella and medial patellar retinaculum extends leg femoral nerve lateral femoral circumflex a. vastus medialis is part of the quadriceps femoris muscle


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.




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