The pectineus is a small, quadrangular stealth muscle that creeps up on you without warning. A muscle that wreaks havoc not only in the groin, but can cause diaphrahm pain, groin pain, and impede proper biomechanics & breathing.
Have you ever awoken the next day from a squat/leg workout [or cycling, hockey, football, sprinting, horseback riding, etc] feeling so sore you can’t really walk or stand or breath properly? I am pectineus- feel my pain!
The pectineus attaches from the superior pubic ramus to your pectineal line. Simply put- it goes from your pubic bone to your upper femur bone. The pectineus is one of your many groin/ adductor muscles (adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis).
The difference between this muscle and other groin muscles is its proximity and interconnectedness to the psoas and illiacus. These three muscles are intertwined within their fascial fibers. If one muscle is unhealthy, dehydrated, and tight, the others will follow suit. In addition, the psoas is married to the diaphragm in a similar fashion.
To make my point, Thomas Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, has dissected many cadavers and shown clearly the relationship of the pectineus to the diaphragm. Upon a slight pull of the pectineus the fascial line went straight up through the psoas to movement in the diaphragm. This connection about a potential cause of diaphragm pain and groin pain is an incredible finding shedding light on many athletes’ issues with groin pain and tacked down, hard to use diaphragms. How easy is it for you to breathe?
If you have any restrictions in your breathing (can’t breathe fully/properly) this will impact your pelvis and groin region placing more constraint/inhibition of muscle use and increased risk of injury. How can you increase mobility of the pectineus? Find out in my next post!
Read “Roll Out Your Pectineus with YTU Therapy Balls”
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Kristen, I would love to see a video if you have one of some ways you can stretch the pectineus properly as it seemsto be a difficult muscle to get to. Much easier to stretch the adductors, hip flexors etc… I have recently started trying to stretch it by starting in an upright kneeling position and letting the knees slide out but keeping the glutes kinda fired (don’t know if that makes sense) but it seems to really get the pectineus more than if doing typical adductor type stretches. Where I really feel the resistance is if I am trying… Read more »
I so go in resonance with your sentence “have you ever awoken the next day from a squat/leg workout feeling so sore you can’t really walk or stand or breathe properly?” I did! And I couldn’t properly walk nor stand. I have read a few blogs now on this Yoga Tune Up blog about the pectineus, and it feels as though this is a muscle worth looking into. I knew about its proximity to the psoas and iliacus, but I didn’t know about its fascial interconnectedness with them. Your descriptions are extremely interesting and the link to the diaphragm is,… Read more »
Fascinating!! To be honest – I knew nothing about this muscle until now. I am delighted to hear of its relationship to the psi as and illiacus- I am currently looking into these muscles a lot now (along with the QL), as I have chronic tightness in this area on my right side. Now I have another muscle to add in to the mix! Can’t wait to read the next chapter to this blog post!
Wow, I didn’t realize how closely the pectineus was with the diaphragm. Our body amazes me. As was stated in my recent anatomy training, “The more I know, the less I know.”
Thank you, I will be aware of that next summer with my hockey players
Thank you for highlighting the importance of the pectineus. I find it fascinating to read about how many different muscles are connected to and impacted by our breathing patterns.
Thanks for shedding light on the small (but mighty) Pectineus and its connection to the diaphragm. If the pectineus is tight this will affect the breathing. If breathing is a challenge, this will affect the pectineus. Time to get out the YTU balls.
Thank you fro this excellent piece on making the connection of the diaphragm and the pectineus and your next one (on rolling) ! I’ve become an avid cycler in the last year and have certainly woken up after a day or a weekend of high mileage riding with exactly this problem. Using my YTU therapy balls I’ve found great success in this but appreciated all the background on the connection.
The pectineus has become my new favourite muscle, I enjoyed reading your post.
Another fascinating connection Pectineous to diaphragm via facial interweaving with Psoas and Iliacus. The body is so interconnected in reality no wonder they used to toss the facia in the bin to try to define distinct muscle actions.
Great information here, especially about the close relationship between the pectineus and the diaphragm! I know that all tissue is connected, but it’s good to be reminded of the clear, but maybe less talked about connections. Great information also for people that have challenges in deep breathing. Thanks for the post!
Hi, I am a relatively new less than a year hockey player I believe after playing back to back 2 games (I know not very smart move :-)) I have experienced a pretty strong pain in a groin area to the point that it was difficult to walk…. I strongly suspect that it must have been pectineus sprain of some sort. However after 2 days of rest and stretching and massaging the area the pain seemed to have almost gone. My question is how soon can I resume playing and if 1 week of break is sufficient in this case?… Read more »
THis is informative. I had this PINCH, TUG, AND DISCOMFORT in leg stretch 3 on the block during TT day #4 and realized it had to be my psoas, iliacus, or PECTINEUS on the left. I have left hip pain (most repeated right at the groin) and “clicking and popping” since 2011: My hips feel like 2 different creatures and I (as well as ortho, PT, etc) can’t figure out what is going on exactly (too flexible, joint instability). My massage therapist, Peg mentioned the psoas… and she was on the right track… there’s something going on in this area… Read more »
Hi Kristin. I was wondering if you could forward me the information or tell me where to look for the information that you found by Thomas Myers. I am fascinated by his work and would really appreciate it. Thank you!
Today’s my last day of the Level 1 YTU training, and I’m teaching cobbler’s pose. Thank you for the amazing context to add. Who knew the pectineus affect the diaphragm.
This post is super exciting to me! I struggle with incredible tightness in my hip flexors and adductors, and it’s so interesting to hear about the connection to the diaphragm. I have to admit that rolling out my pectineus, and any of the adductors, is incredibly intense for me and I have thoroughly avoided it. Thinking about its connection to my breathing, however, changes my reluctance somewhat!
Thank you Kristin to show us the petineus. It’s important to understand that also the small muscle could affect all the muscles that surround it, even the bigger ones.
One of my first a-ha moments of Yoga Tune Up training thus far was during a breathing exercise and the instructor (awesome Ariel!) mentioned how the diaphragm interacts with all of our other internals – organs, muscles. This makes perfect sense obviously but it was the first time I REALLY thought about it. It’s opened a new door of investigation into my own body and feedback I get from students. Love this. Thank you!
I have been chasing the causes and origin of my deep hip pain, including “catches” in the upper inner thigh post exercise. I will be exploring this little guy along with its pals, the iliacus and psoas. Thanks for the guidance!
This is the first I’ve heard of the relationship between the pectinius and the diaphragm – fascinating. So, if I understand you correctly, this relationship occurs through the psoas? I love learning more about the muscles that affect and are affected by the psoas. Since the psoas itself is so deep and difficult to palpate, I’ve had the best luck with target the muscles that connect to it – now I have one more to add to the list.
WOW! The pectineus and the diaphragm have a little love affair?! Who knew! Exploring that now with my YTU therapy balls!….be right back!
Wow! I’ve just recently become more curious about pectinius while exploring with using YTU Balls. I’ve noticed in the past in reformer pilates class that it has always been more uncomfortable/unstable to perform any adduction/abduction with body weight on my left side where I also have a psoas/ql issue, no wonder -I have not given my pectinius any love! I will certainly be adding it to my stretching/strengthening routine now that I see how closely connected it is to my other problem areas. Thanks!
[…] previously mentioned in my first post, the pectineus is surrounded not only by other adductor muscles; but, also by the psoas and […]
Awesome, I always had a sneaking suspicion this particular muscles was such an area of tension for me. Your breakdown of it’s location and function has clarified it. Also thanks for Yi-Hueh’s comment on this muscle’s function and other activities it is involved in.
Fascinating to find out about the relationships between seemingly separate parts of the body. Thank you for the post, I will keep this in mind when someone has difficulties taking deep abdominal breaths, and ask them about there hips.
This is awesome info!! I have been recovering from right hip injury for the past several years….and since I started to learn YTU, my symptom of discomfort are getting much more clear and make sense!! When I feel pain in my right hip and sitting prolong time, my spine tend to tilt to right side as well, I can feel tight in iliopsoas muscles but also at superior pubic ramus. Doing “Tree pose” during my yoga practice, sometimes it cracks at superior pubic ramas. I thought it must be pectineus, but didn’t know the relationship to the diaphragm! Thank you… Read more »
I am such a fan of this – I find after heavy squats in particular…I find targeting this really helps me to recover, but to also connect to my diaphragm which in turn helps to improve my squat!! It’s a win-win!!
Great posts! Thanks. Yasmen, it is tough to propriocept exact adductors through movement; but, doing it through palpation definitely helps you gain more perspective and kinaesthetic awareness. Palpate your adductors and check them out; and, the next time you see a rolfer or RMT you can ask (only if comfortable). After, you can do YTU poses and see if you can differentiate. Perhaps not individually but a better sense of location hence coupling the muscles, if you know what I mean. Yi-Hsueh Lu, you are absolutely right about the pectineus being a flexor and it is also a medial rotator!… Read more »
I am always amazed by how the dots can be connected, particularly how the pectineus is closely related to the psoas. Although pectineus is listed as one of the five adductor muscles, note that it’s the most anterior muscle of the five and its major function is hip flexion. Along with the psoas, the pectineus can be tightened by long hours of sitting and continuous flexion/extension at the hips in walking, running and biking.
This has dogged me for so long. I am a speedskater and we use are adductors like crazy on the ice. It’s such an unstable surface to begin with and after a hard session, they are quite fired up. I have noticed a huge difference in my heavy squats and in my skating, as to how fast I can recover, if the adductors were not ultra tight to start off with. However is there a way to know exactly which adductor you are working on while doing YTU?
Thank you for bringing new awareness to the pectinues. Because of my scoliosis, I usually would have tight psoas and illiacus on the left, which often affect the function of my left hip as well. Incidentally, I experienced a little trouble getting out of my driver seat this evening, I felt some tightness in my groin and could not extend my thigh bone from my hip joint for a few seconds, The location was so close to the pectinues you described here. I look forward to reading more about how to increase the mobility of pectinues.
Thanks for this post, Kristin! I just started the YTU Teacher Training and one of my personal goals is to find a way to heal/manage some off and on pain in my right hip. (It actually started after I took a Pilates-Fusion class where we did about a million pliés followed by the Pilates equivalent of Boat Pose. Holy Hip Flexors!) Based on the diagram and your clear explanation, I’m now certain this is one of the affected muscles and now I have a place to start unwinding this knotty hip.
Thank you Kristin and hello again!
Perfect timing! I would like to help a student move into belly breathing. She is young, quite tight in all her leg joints and she cannot access her belly breath at this point. She understands belly breathing conceptually, but cannot “locate” it yet in her own breathing. She told me her six year old daughter immediately begins to belly breath when she has an asthma “attack,” a heroic response of her body to calm her breathing down.
I eagerly await your follow up blog with specifics to help move and strengthen the pectineus.
Thanks Kirstin for pointing out this hidden connection to the breath! i’m looking forward to your follow up post. I just finished Level 1 Teacher Training and i am interested in learning how to use the Yoga Tune Up Balls and poses to help target this deeper muscle.