Hindlimb Muscles

So we’ve had a look at the major muscle groups of the hindlimbs the gluteals, hamstrings and the quads. Now it’s time to take a look at the smaller but equally important sartorius and gastrocnemius muscles!

Problems in these muscles, due to their size, can be tricky for pet owners to notice so are often missed until they become larger more debilitating issues. But knowing where these muscles are and what they do can help you notice small changes sooner.

To make sure your pets are in tip-top condition and no small changes are missed be sure to book their regular maintenance sessions with us here.


The sartorius in our pets runs over the top of the quad muscles. As we spoke about last week in our pets the quad is much deep than it is in us as humans and this is because of the sartorius muscle laying over them.

The sartorius is an interesting muscle as it has slightly different placements in the dog and the horse leading to different functions of the sartorius.

In the dog: From the tuber coxae and iliac crest to the crural fascia and cranial margin of the tibia.

In the dog the sartorius flexes the hip, extends and flexes the stifle and leads to hindlimb adduction and protraction.

In the horse: From the internal iliac fascia and the insertional tendon of the psoas minor to the medial aspect of the stifle.

The sartorius in the horse however only flexes the hip and leads to hindlimb adduction and protraction.


The gastrocnemius is our pets calf muscle that runs from the back of their knee to the back of the hock.

In the dog: From the medial and lateral supracondylar tuberosities if the femur to the tuber calcanei.

In the horse: From the medial and lateral supracondylar tuberosities if the femur to the tuber calcanei via the common calcaneal tendon.

The gastrocnemius is our pets equivalent to our calf muscle and functions to extend the hock and flex the stifle.

So now you know what the sartorius and gastrocnemius do and where they are it’s time to look at how we can improve their strength and muscle mass.

We want our pets to power through from their hindlimbs so increasing the strength and muscle mass of their hindlimb muscles is key to achieving this. So the sartorius and gastrocnemius together help to flex and extend the joints of the hindlimbs. To support these muscles and the joints of the hindlimbs you can focus on exercises that increase hindlimb range of motion.

Don’t know where to start? Check out our recent canine https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/from-confused-to-confident-the-ultimate-canine-conditioning-webinar and equine https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/struggling-to-success-an-equine-conditioning-journey-webinar conditioning webinars or if you prefer to read instead of watch check out our fitness ebooks for dogs https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/the-ultimate-canine-fitness-guide and horse's https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/the-complete-equine-fitness-guide.

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