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De-Pesking my Pectineus

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On Wednesday, we de-mystified the pectineus. Today we continue our adventures in self-discovery with some tune-ups.

Let’s go on a little adventure, and shine a light and enter the frontal plane of your body through the anterior of your thigh. Journey inside there, through superficial fascia, deep fascia, keep going to notice three layers of muscle, most anterior (superior to the adductor longus), is the pectineus adductor of the hip. The little pectineus muscle is shaped like a short comb (hence the Latin root name) flat and quadrangular. Check behind it to see the adductor brevis, then as the floor of the adductors you’ll find the big, broad adductor magnus.

Not to be left out is the gracilis, the 5th adductor. It lies most medially, and is a source of the sometimes super tight & ropey adductor tendon by the pubic bone going into the inner thigh, sit in Baddha Konasana and you can’t miss it! This tendon also provides us with a good landmark to palpate your pectineus muscle. So utilize your kinesthetic awareness and feel that ropey tendon, directly anterior to this is the pectineus! The pectineus is so closely joined with the obturator externus, its antagonist, (a lateral rotator) which also originates at the rami of pubis, inserts (although lower) onto the femur, and they are innervated by the same obturator L3 &4 nerves.

Yoga Tune Up® has created an arsenal of fix-it postures for myself. The asymmetrical standing postures prove to offer helpful relief. I am particularly fond of asymmetrical warrior 2. Your front foot is on a low yoga block, leg in external rotation, and although the hip is in flexion (a pectineus centric move) the added asymmetrical component creates a deep and profound external rotation and opening for the inner thigh, as pectineus collaborates with its closely related obturator externus to stretch. Performing this posture I experience delightfully delicious relief! Try it, yum!

Warrior 2 on a Block
Warrior 2 on a Block

Another one of my go to favorites is Apanasana on a block. In this position I completely reverse the actions which cause dis-tress. Start on your back knees bent feet flat, set up for bridge, Lift your butt up to place a yoga block on its lowest or medium setting under sacrum, relax. Extend and straighten your right leg while you bend your other knee flexing it toward your abdomen. VERY gently pulse the bent leg toward you as you press the straight leg’s heel into the floor with a flexed foot to create additional reach (sometimes I close the chain and press the flexed foot into a wall, creating even more length in my stretch).

Lastly, some YTU Therapy Ball work. These little rubber balls are great for careful experimentation.

This is what I’ve discovered. Proceed with caution because there are sensitive structures lymph nodes and especially the inguinal ligament, (outer crease of your thigh to the middle pubic bone) which you want to avoid. Lie on your belly and place the ALPHA Ball (although I’ve also used the plus), directly superior to the ropey adductor tendon, aim for your inner thigh. Ever so slightly frog leg, and breathe abdominal thoracic breaths to allow the ball to sink into the tissues.

Iliacus, pectineus, and the inguinal ligament
Iliacus, pectineus, and the inguinal ligament

Your next move will be to stretch, straighten your leg and without any rotation, slowly with awareness, dynamically abduct and adduct it, the ball rolls deeply along the line of the pectineus muscle, and feels so good!

And many say you can’t do yoga with hip replacements! Not true. And yet please, proceed with caution, do not ever overdo, and give yourself plenty of time to heal before you attempt to do these exercises.

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