What Are The Primary Muscles Used During Walking?

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You’re about to discover the fascinating world of muscles and walking. Have you ever wondered which muscles are hard at work as you stroll down the street or enjoy a leisurely hike? Look no further! This read will enlighten you on the primary muscles that play a crucial role in walking, allowing you to better understand the mechanics behind this everyday activity. Brace yourself for some muscle fun!

Hip Muscles

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus, commonly known as the glutes, is the largest and most powerful muscle in the hip region. It is responsible for the extension of the hip joint, which occurs when you move your leg backward or propelling yourself forward during walking. This muscle plays a crucial role in maintaining proper posture and stability while upright.

Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is situated on the outer surface of your pelvis and works closely with the gluteus maximus. This muscle is responsible for abducting the hip, which means it moves your leg away from the midline of your body. During walking, the gluteus medius stabilizes the pelvis and helps to maintain balance by preventing excessive inward tilt. It is particularly active during the stance phase of walking.

Gluteus Minimus

The gluteus minimus is a smaller muscle located just beneath the gluteus medius. It assists in the abduction of the hip and also plays a role in stabilizing the pelvis during walking. This muscle works together with the gluteus medius to maintain proper alignment and prevent excessive lateral movement of the pelvis.

Tensor Fasciae Latae

The tensor fasciae latae muscle, often abbreviated as TFL, is a small muscle located at the front of the hip. It works in conjunction with the gluteus medius to abduct the hip. During walking, the TFL plays a role in stabilizing the pelvis and preventing excessive inward rotation. It also helps maintain tension in the iliotibial band, a fibrous structure that runs from the hip to the knee.

Thigh Muscles

Quadriceps Femoris

The quadriceps femoris, commonly referred to as the quads, is a group of four muscles located on the front of the thigh. These muscles include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. The primary function of the quadriceps is to extend the knee joint, which is essential for the forward movement during walking. Additionally, the rectus femoris, which crosses both the hip and knee joints, plays a role in hip flexion as well.


The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located on the back of the thigh: the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles work in opposition to the quadriceps during walking, providing balance and control. The hamstrings play a crucial role in flexing the knee joint and extending the hip joint, both of which are necessary for efficient walking.

Adductor Muscles

The adductor muscles, including the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and gracilis, are located on the inner side of the thigh. These muscles are responsible for adduction, which is the movement that brings the leg back towards the midline of the body. While walking, the adductor muscles help to stabilize the hip and maintain proper alignment.

Calf Muscles


The gastrocnemius is the larger of the two calf muscles and forms the bulk of the calf’s shape. It is responsible for plantar flexion, which is the movement that points your foot downward. During the push-off phase of walking, the gastrocnemius contracts to propel you forward and raise your body onto your toes.


The soleus is located beneath the gastrocnemius and contributes to the overall strength and power of the calf muscles. It also plays a significant role in plantar flexion. Despite being a smaller muscle than the gastrocnemius, the soleus is highly active during walking, especially during the swing phase when the foot is off the ground.

Deep Leg Muscles

Peroneus Longus

The peroneus longus, also known as the fibularis longus, runs along the outside of the lower leg. It is responsible for eversion of the foot, where the sole of the foot turns outward. This muscle helps to stabilize the ankle joint during walking and contributes to maintaining balance and proper alignment.

Tibialis Anterior

The tibialis anterior is located on the front of the lower leg and is responsible for dorsiflexion, which is the movement that brings your foot upward. This muscle controls the lowering of the foot during the swing phase of walking and helps to prevent your foot from dragging on the ground.

Foot Muscles

Flexor Hallucis Longus

The flexor hallucis longus muscle is located deep within the calf and extends down to the foot. It is responsible for flexing the big toe, which plays a crucial role in toe-off during walking. This muscle also assists in stabilizing the arch of the foot and maintaining balance.

Extensor Digitorum Longus

The extensor digitorum longus muscle is situated on the front of the lower leg, next to the tibialis anterior. It extends to the toes and is responsible for dorsiflexion of the second to fifth toes. This muscle assists in lifting the toes off the ground during walking and helps to maintain proper foot positioning.

Back Muscles

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae is a group of muscles that run along the length of the spine in the back. This muscle group, which includes the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles, is responsible for maintaining an upright posture during walking. The erector spinae works to extend and stabilize the spine, providing the necessary support for the body’s movement.

Abdominal Muscles

Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis, commonly known as the abs, is a long muscle that runs vertically along the front of the abdomen. It is responsible for flexing the trunk, allowing you to forward bend during walking. The rectus abdominis plays a vital role in maintaining stability and balance during various movements, including walking.

External Obliques

The external obliques are located on the sides of the abdomen, extending from the lower ribs to the pelvis. These muscles are responsible for both flexing and rotating the trunk. During walking, the external obliques help to stabilize the pelvis and maintain proper alignment.

Internal Obliques

The internal obliques are positioned beneath the external obliques, running in the opposite direction. These muscles also contribute to trunk flexion and rotation. Together with the external obliques, the internal obliques work to stabilize the pelvis and maintain proper alignment during walking.

Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis is a deep-lying muscle located beneath the other abdominal muscles. It wraps around the abdomen like a corset, providing stability and support. This muscle is particularly important for maintaining the integrity of the core during walking and other movements. The transverse abdominis helps to stabilize the pelvis and maintain proper alignment of the spine.

Arm Muscles


The deltoid muscle is located at the shoulder and consists of three distinct parts: the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoid. These muscles work together to allow a wide range of movements at the shoulder joint. During walking, the deltoid helps to swing the arms back and forth, providing balance and aiding in the overall coordination of movement.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii, commonly known as the biceps, is a large muscle located on the front of the upper arm. This muscle is responsible for flexing the elbow joint, allowing you to swing your arms while walking. The biceps also plays a role in stabilizing the shoulder joint during arm movements.

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii, located on the back of the upper arm, is responsible for extending the elbow joint. This muscle works in opposition to the biceps brachii during walking, providing control and stability to the arm movements. The triceps brachii assists in maintaining balance and coordination.

Shoulder Muscles


The trapezius muscle, commonly referred to as the traps, is a large muscle that covers the upper back and neck area. It is responsible for a variety of movements involving the shoulder blade and neck. During walking, the trapezius helps to stabilize the shoulder blades, maintaining proper alignment and providing support for arm movements.


The rhomboids are located between the shoulder blades and play a significant role in retracting and stabilizing the scapulae. These muscles assist in maintaining proper posture and shoulder alignment during walking. They work together with other muscles to provide stability and control throughout the walking cycle.

Chest Muscles

Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis major, commonly known as the pecs, is a large muscle located in the chest region. It is responsible for various movements at the shoulder joint, including flexion, adduction, and internal rotation. During walking, the pectoralis major assists in maintaining the swinging motion of the arms, contributing to balance and coordination.

Pectoralis Minor

The pectoralis minor is a smaller muscle located beneath the pectoralis major. It works in conjunction with the pectoralis major to stabilize the shoulder joint and assist in movements of the scapulae. This muscle contributes to the overall stability and coordination of the upper body during walking.

In conclusion, walking engages a wide array of muscles throughout the body. From the hip muscles that propel you forward to the arm and shoulder muscles that aid in balance, every muscle group has its role to play. Understanding the primary muscles used during walking can help you appreciate the complexity and coordination required for this seemingly simple activity. So, the next time you go for a walk, take a moment to appreciate the coordinated effort of all these muscles working together to keep you moving.