Activity and functions of the human gluteal muscles in walking, running, sprinting, and climbing.
Compared with apes, the gluteus maximus in humans is relatively larger. It has been proposed that this morphological disparity may have served as an important adaptation during hominin evolution. To better understand the specific function of the gluteus maximus during locomotion, the authors of the current study assessed EMG activity during walking, running, sprinting, and climbing.
The results demonstrate that gluteus maximus activity was greatest during sprinting, whilst running and climbing produced similar levels of EMG signals - both of which were greater than that of walking. Interestingly, only the inferior portion of the muscle had a significant change with the altered trunk pitch angles associated with walking and running - thereby suggesting that the hip extensors play a limited role in controlling trunk pitch demands during running.
These findings implicate that the large size of the gluteus maximus reflects it's multifaceted role during explosive movements as opposed to a specific adaptation for submaximal tasks such as endurance running > From Bartlett et al., Am J Phys Anthropol (2013) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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