The pectineus is an individual muscle located in the inner thigh. This small muscle functions together with the other adductor muscles -- the adductor magnus, longus and brevis, plus the gracilis -- to pull the thigh inward after it's been stretched out to the side. The pectineus is the most superficial of the inner thigh muscles. Interestingly, it gets its name from its shape, which resembles a long-toothed comb historically worn in women’s hair. The goal of pectineus exercises is to decrease pain, and to stretch and strengthen the inner thigh.
Discomfort originating from the pectineus muscle can be the result of a slip, fall or hip replacement surgery. Other activities that may increase the risk of injury to the pectineus include: running games; gymnastics, particularly poses involving the splits; crossover kicks in soccer; horseback riding; and sitting cross-legged. Treat pain, discomfort or injury to the pectineus muscle through rehabilitation exercises.
Perform self-massage to treat pain or discomfort in the pectineus muscle. Sitting comfortably with your legs extended in front of you, gently roll one leg outward to expose the inner thigh. Bending the knee and placing the ankle on the opposite knee also increases the exposure of this area. Gently massage the inner thigh area with your fingers for 10 to 20 minutes.
The pectineus muscle is often over-stretched or tight. To properly loosen the inner thigh area, start with a standing stretch. Stand with your right shoulder facing a set of stairs. Lift your right leg and place the inner edge of your right foot onto the lowest stair. Keep your toes facing forward. In this position, the inner thigh faces the floor. To deepen the stretch you can lower your body by bending your left knee, place your right foot on a higher stair or lean your left hip away from the stairs. Once you feel a slight pull in your inner thigh, hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch three to five times with each leg.
Strengthening the pectineus muscle protects it from injury and allows it to function properly in everyday activities. To practice strengthening the inner thigh area, begin by sitting comfortably in a chair. Place a semi-soft ball in between your legs. Squeeze your legs together, adding pressure to the ball. Hold your position for five seconds and release. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
- Trail Guide to the Body; Andrew Biel
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook; Clair Davies and Amber Davies
- Message Therapy; Trish Dryden and Christopher A. Moyer
- The Anatomy of Stretching; Brad Walker
Erika McAuley is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, British Columbia. As an exercise rehabilitation professional, she has been preventing and treating musculoskeletal injuries in athletes and civil workers since 2008. McAuley holds a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in athletic therapy from Trinity Western University and an Advanced Certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University.