Get Strong, Sexy Legs: The Anatomy of Your Leg Muscles
Anatomy of Your Leg Muscles
No, your glute muscles are not officially part of your legs (get the full 411 on your rear view at fitnessmagazine.com/behind), but here we take a below-the-cheeks look at the major players that are.
These muscles, which form the back of the thigh, flex your knee and extend your hip.
Also known as inner thigh muscles; squeeze a pencil between your knees to feel these fire.
This muscle at the front of your thigh is made up of four sections and is the main mover when you extend knees.
The uppermost of your two calf muscles, it gives your feet push-off power with each step.
This calf muscle works with and lies underneath the gastrocnemius.
The strip of muscle that makes up your shin and helps you flex your ankle to move your foot toward your knee.
The region between our calves and ankles is not defined by muscle but rather by the Achilles tendon, which connects the two. For some women, this area cinches in dramatically from a well-toned calf muscle, while for others it slopes down gradually. And then there are those whose lower legs appear to drop in a straight line, with no indentation at all, inspiring the unflattering label cankles.
"Cankles are essentially a visual effect," orthopedic surgeon Vonda Wright, MD, says. "Models often look as if they have cankles because their legs are tubes from the knee to the ankle. It's all relative."
For the calf to taper, there has to be a shapely muscle to begin with. Yet, again, many women are reluctant to strengthen their calf muscles for fear that they will thicken and produce a cankle effect. "That's a myth," Dr. Wright says. "Cankles don't come from muscle, because by the time you get to the ankle, it's all tendons. Cankles come from fat accumulation."
It's partly a matter of genetic roulette. Obese women can have skinny ankles, for example, while for other women the lower leg may be the last place where they lose fat.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2012.
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