Hip Adductors and External Rotators in Forward Bending:
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
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.
Lets 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?
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?
Susis Book Update.......After a couple of holdups with drawings, we
are on track with layout and design. We are set to print October 1. In a few
weeks a sample chapter will be up on the website for you to read and enjoy.