Hip Adductors and External Rotators in Forward Bending:

Hip Adductors
External Rotators

Forward Bends require us to be patient, gentle, and quiet as the tightness that occupies the back side of the body unravels, lets go, and releases. As the tightness releases, the whole backside becomes stronger. The Release In no other group of asanas do we rely so much on such a release to occur – the release of the plantar fascia, gastrocnemius, soleus, hamstrings, hip rotators, and erector spinae. This chain of muscles can be the nemesis of many yoga practitioners when performing forward bends. I use the word nemesis because of the stories told of people tearing hamstrings when an overzealous intention (that is, when ambition overrides patience) takes the forward bend deeper than the physical body can handle.

The hamstrings are not the only source for injury in forward bends. If the arms pull the body into flexion farther than it can actual handle, excessive strain can occur at the lower spine, SI joint, and hamstring attachments at the pelvic bones, tibia, and fibula. This strain can lead to spinal, hip, or knee dysfunction, which in turn leads to back or neck pain.

Going Deeper without Pain: Balancing the Hip Rotators with the Hip Adductors:

The hip rotators and the hip adductors are 2 of several muscles that influence the movement into forward bends. I offer up both them for exploration because when they work well together they help to safely create depth, ease and freedom in forward bends.

Hip External (Lateral) Rotators:

The six external rotators of the hips are the quadratus femoris, the gemelles superior and inferior, the obturator externus and internus and the piriformis. As a group they can be described as fans. The small end of the fan is at the femur. From this attachment they fan out across the pelvis. When they contract they act to externally rotate and stabilize the head of the femur in the hip socket. As they relate to forward bends, the external rotators of the hips limit hip flexion when they are tight. If they are tight, two things occur:

1. The head of the femur rotates externally. This causes the whole thigh to roll outward, away from the midline of the body.

2. The pelvis rotates posteriorly. When the pelvis rotates posteriorly, it tucks under – the pubic bone moves toward the navel and the ischial tuberosities, the sitting bones, move toward the floor. Let’s take a moment to feel it: In standing or sitting, move your pelvis into a "tucked" or posteriorly rotated position. Maintaining it, try to move into your forward bend. Feel what happens. How far and how easy did it feel to move into your forward bend?

Hip Adductors:

The hip adductors include the pectineus, gracilis, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus. They all originate at the pelvis. Most, except for the gracilis, attach along the femur. The gracilis attaches below the knee on the tibia.

As they relate to forward bends, the hip adductors have a secondary role as medial rotators. Not only do they bring the legs together, they also rotate them inward. So, when gently used in forward bends, the hip adductors softly spiral the legs inward acting as antagonists to and balancing the action of the external rotators. With this balance they contribute to core stability, enabling both the external rotators and the hamstrings to release further
Let's experience the balance between the hip external rotators and adductors.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Move into the Uttansana that you know. Feel what you feel.
Now, take 2 pressed foam blocks, or one wooden block and place it between your thighs, about an inch lower than your pelvis. Gently press the block(s). Now move into your forward bend. Notice what you feel. Was anything different?
Happy exploring!

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Anatomy and Asana Ezine

Easy to apply and understand principles of anatomy as they apply to yoga asana. Brought to you by Susi Hately Aldous and Functional Synergy Yoga Therapy feeling the flow of body, mind and soul www.functionalsynergy.com