ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Muscles Are Used While Running?

Updated on October 10, 2010

Educating ourselves on the muscles we use while exercising is important. The more we know about our body, the better we can protect it by treating it with care and avoiding injury.

Running on a regular basis has many benefits, including weight loss, stress relief and maintaining a strong and healthy body. As it is one of the more physically exerting activities, it can also cause damage to your body such as a pulled hamstring or dislocation of your kneecaps. With a little knowledge, we can help prevent these injuries with the right equipment and by properly stretching your muscles before the run.

Primary Muscles Used While Running

Primary muscles will get the most impact from your movement and therefore should receive more care. 

Your primary muscles while running will include your quads (quadriceps femoris), hamstrings, gluteus maximus, iliopsoas, and your calf muscles.


Quads (Quadriceps Femoris)

Your quads are muscle groups of four basic muscles located on your front thighs. You will be able to see and identify these muscles on the picture to your right. They are:

  • The rectus femoris,
  • The vastus medialis,
  • The vastus lateralis, and
  • The vastus intermedius.

Your quads are responsible for moving two of the joints used in running, your knee joint and your hip joint. The work together to straighten your knees and bend your hips.

If you are interested in strengthening your quad muscles consider doing squats and lunges. Increasing strength in your muscles apart from running can decrease your risk of injury and  increase your speed.


Hamstrings and Gluteus Maximus

Your hamstrings are made up of four muscle-parts on the back of your thighs. As pictured, these are known as:

  • The semitendinosus,
  • The semimembranosus, and
  • The biceps femoris (two parts: long head and short head).

These four parts of your hamstrings allows you to flex your knees. The semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the long head biceps femoris work together to extend the hips. As you may have noticed, your hamstrings work opposite your quads in how your knees and hips move, creating a systematic medley that works well for you body.

The gluteus macimus, also pictured though not labeled, is the largest of the gluteal muscles. You will recognize it easily as it is the muscle that contributes most to creating the shape of the buttocks, better known as butt or rear-end.

This muscle will help you keep proper erect posture by extending your hips.


Hip Flexors (Iliopsoas)

Your hip flexors (or iliopsoas), like your quads, is comprised of a muscle group of two muscles:

  • The iliacus and
  • The psoas major.

As you can see on the picture to your right, the shortest muscle, the iliacus, begins on your pelvic crest (the iliac fossa) and stretches over to your thigh bone (femur). The larger of the muscles, the psoas major, stretches from your T-12 spinal vertebrae to your L-5 spinal vertebrae and there attaches to the femur.

These two muscles work together to help your hips flex.

The iliopsoas are often the culprit behind sever hip pain. If you experience hip pain while running, you should stop your routine immediately, and go see your doctor or a chiropractic specialist. Do not begin running again until they have determined it to be safe.

calf muscles
calf muscles

Calf Muscles

Your calf muscles are located on the back of you leg, below your knee. Though many anatomists see the calf muscle to be a single muscle (triceps surae), most say that it is a muscle group, like your quads and hip flexors. This group consists of two main muscles, the:

  • The gastrocnemius and
  • The soleus.

Your calf muscles will allow you to flex your knee and planter flex your ankle. Like your quads, your calf muscles can be strengthened by doing squats. Other good strength-building exercises would include calf muscle raises and skipping!

Supporting Muscles Used While Running

Though your supporting muscles may not come under as much strain as your primary muscles, it is a good idea to educate yourself about them and protect them as well. Your supporting muscles are:

  • The abdominals (both upper and lower) and
  • The biceps brachii.

Your abdominals are located at your abdomen. These muscles will allow you to maintain good posture during your workout, helping you to prevent injury and maximizing your time.

Your biceps brachii (better known as your biceps), are located above your elbow and allows you to rotate your forearms and flex your elbows. You will only use this muscle if your elbow is bent, making your running more efficient.

Do a Full Stretch Routine

It can be argued that you will use your entire body when you run. Doing a full body stretch routine will ensure that your whole body will be warmed up, and it will increase your flexibility.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Excellent article that covers what to eat after a short run

    • Charles kanga akou profile image

      Charles kanga akou 

      7 months ago from Côte d'Ivoire

      Thanks for the informations on this article

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thnx soon much I searched so many websites but this is the only one with the right information

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      You spelt alot of words wrong and it looked a bit dodgy. Most of it was correct, but I'd double check before you copy anything down of this blog to see if it is spelt correctly.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      thanks for the information , it helped me in my expedition homework

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      thank you! this will help me get an A on my project!!!! I have a PE project worth 250 points!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This helped me get an A on my project thank you!;)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Mile time: 5.02.57

      Warriors Track and Field!

    • profile image


      8 years ago



    • profile image


      8 years ago

      heeeeey guys epicness lolfish this helped me wiv my homework thx i go 2 epic high in America i love u guys xxxxxx u saved my but

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like running very much, great hub

    • L R Goodman profile imageAUTHOR

      L R Goodman 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for reading it!

    • AKN-London profile image


      9 years ago from UK

      Running is best exercise and even if you run just for 15 minutes 3 times a weeks, its good! You feel good! Thanks for posting a awesome blog!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)