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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Shari Williams

Shari is a Yogi and a Scientist. It's her passion for the practice of yoga which fuels her desire to teach. She has direct experience of healing and the significant transformation yoga offers & specifically the increase in strength and joint mobility Yoga Tune Up(R) provides. You will be presented with instruction firmly rooted through her education in kinesiology. The study of human movement. as well as her vast athletic, energetic and Yogic understanding. She has 30 years of teachng and practice experience, Shari knows yoga! She has a developed "eye" to see nd enlighten you to your body's blind spots. Being a lover of the human form and compassionate about the nuance of human condition you will find her warm and accessible. she is hands on (yet respectful if this is not your choice) assisting you develop healthful alignment, the foundation to build your postures. She loves life and enjoys being in nature, hiking in the woods, or biking through the forest. Yoga practice with Shari will enhance your life, give you more time in the day through enhanced energy, self esteem and well-being. She is available for private sessions, workshops, and teaches weekly classes at the Golden Mandala Collective in Nevada City, California.

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Isis

I haven´t tried the variation with the block in Warrior 2 yet but it looks inviting!! I will definitely practice it very soon. I just did the apanasana with block and felt great in my hips. Thank you for sharing.

Katelyn

I have always liked the feedback that warrior 2 on a block provides. The extra external rotation shines a light on all those small adductor muscles. I never thought to use the alpha ball in this area… definitely will give that a try! Thanks

diana

Typically, getting flexion or rotation at my hips & inner thighs is not a problem. (A bit of hypermobility plus years of dance, etc.) I just tried the warrior 2 on the block and WOW. I did not realize how much effort I was putting into the opening. With the block, I have stability and a lovely focused stretch.

Nancy Bernhard

This sequence was also a great preparation to working my inflamed psoas. Having all that room in the adductor attachments allowed much better access to the big flexors and facilitated a huge parasympathetic response. Thank you!

Shelby Williams

Shari! This article was great! I will try the asymmetrical warrior 2 with one of my students who plays soccer and struggles with hip and groin pain. I think this will help him a great deal.

Katharina

Thank you for this follow-up to your last article on the pectineus. The poses you describe also worked very well for me and my groin issues. I love Apanasana on a block with my right leg stretched, as I experience great relief on my right pubic bone where different muscles attach. I also appreciate the ball work you describe in great detail and with great caution to the structures we find on our pubic bones.

michele

Thank you for the suggestion about using the Alpha ball in this way to roll out Pectineus. I find that it is so hard to access this muscle. Can’t wait to try it!

Andree

Thanks for this post! I have perpetually tight adductors so I’m happy to learn various rolling/stretching techniques!

Janie Prince

I love the assymetrical warrior 2! It’s one of those things where I’m like “why didn’t I think of that”?!? Hahaha! It’s an easy fix and It’s so effective to deepen the stretch and gain a little more external rotation of the hip. I haven’t tried your ball sequence yet but I look forward to giving it a go!

Ashley

I usually refer to the adductors as a group so it is nice to let the pectineus shine on its on for a second. I think some great PNF can be found in the poses your outlined for the adductors!

Carol Anderson

Apanasana on a block with closed chain at the wall felt so good after rolling with the Alpha Ball. Loved the Adductor information! Thanks for the enlightenment.

Tracy Wagner

Great information on the adductors! Nice reminder to watch out for the sensitive structures like the inguinal ligament.

Amanda Shepherd

Nice location c(l)ues. I love this roll out of the pectineus. Thank you :).

Amanda Shepherd

Nice location c(l)ues. I think using the ball to roll out the pectineus will make clients feel great. Thank you :).

Tracy E.

The asymmetrically warrior two will be a good counter stretch after working our adductors. I look forward to trying it!

Isabelle P

I might try this my spped skaters who have are really strong abductor but need to work hard off ice on their add.

stephanie blazi

Great article! I love the modification of placing the foot on a block in Vira 2!

Miri Greenberg

great article! going to do the warrior 2 on the block with much more information now. thanks 🙂

Tracey Silverman

I can’t wait to jump to your first post about yoga post-hip replacement! Those adductors are indeed, pesky! I’ve been experimenting with self-massage and YTU poses like Adductor Slides, but I often forget about the asymmetrical Warrior 2 and I love the isometric suggestion of pushing heel into floor in Apanasana on the Block. I can’t wait to experiment with these!