Does one of your hips feel weak or painful while doing forward bends making it difficult to both enter and leave the pose? Your brain may not be turning on obturator externus. Some tips for how to get your brain to turn it back on again.
The obturator externus is one of the six deep muscles of the hip. In an upright position it can be used to help lift the pelvis relative to the thigh. The amount of lift is slight but perceivable via muscle tension.
In combination with the obturator internus and the gemelli, tension in the obturator externus can help prevent the top of the hip joint from resting on the top of the ball of the femur. Excessive tension on any of these muscles can cause the bottom of the hip joint to press up against the bottom of the ball of the thigh.
One way to view the muscles of the hip is as a series of spokes that help to keep the ball of the femur centered relative to the socket of the pelvis. Tension in the muscles is adjusted to counter body weight and the action of the muscles themselves as they are used to change position or movement.
Muscle tension also affects the joint capsule envelope which in turn controls fluid pressure within the capsule which maintains "adjustability" between the ball and socket of the hip joint.
The obturator externus gets its name from the fact that it covers one side of the opening at the bottom of the side of the pelvis, the obturator foramen. It has a large line of attachment that almost spans the bottom of the pelvis from pubic bone to sitting bone. It's fibers pass backwards and upwards behind the neck of the femur to attach to a point on the inner surface of the greater trochanter.
Because of its broad attachment it can extert an upwards (and rearwards) pull on the entire bottom edge of the hip bone.
A muscle with a similiar line of attachment but attaching to most of the length of the back of the femur is the adductor magnus.
The gluteus medius and minimus both attach to the upper edge of the side of the pelvis above the hip joint and from there attach to the outer surface of the greater trochanter. Both of these glutes and the adductor magnus can exert a downwards pull on the pelvis relative to the thigh. Without the weight of the body to contend with either of these muscles could act against the obturator externus to help keep the hip joint centered.
Forward bending the hip tends to reduce the distance that the obturator externus spans, potentially reducing its tension and its effectiveness. If the hip is bent forwards it may mean that if activated effort is concentrated on the longer fibers that attach closer to the front of the pelvis.
In a forward bent position these fibers could be used to pull the pelvis rearwards relative to the femurs or, from another perspective, pull the femurs forward relative to the pelvis.
This could help keep the hip joint centered in a forward bend.
Back bending at the hip may naturally add tension to the obturator externus. However, externally rotating the thighs may help to reduce some of this tension.
In a back bend for the hip the fibers that attach closer to the front of the pelvis will be stretched. The more rearward fibers may thus be more effective in a back bend helping to create an upward pull on the sitting bones relative to the femurs.
For myself I've experienced hip pain in my left hip on and off for a while. It can be quite extreme entereing and leaving forward bends, particular triangle forward bend with the left leg forwards, and also one legged forward bends where the right leg is lifted but pulled forwards. The pain is accompanied by a sense of weakness in the hip.
Recently I've played with deliberately activating obturator externus by pushing back on the pubic bone relative to the hip joint. A potential tip that it is this muscle that is activating when i do this is that the glute med and min also activate.
The trick then is maintaining the activation when entering and leaving the position.
The seated get up is a way of getting into the one legged squat from a seated position. Even if you aren't interested in one leg squats this video does include tips on stabilizing the knees (at about the 5 minute mark.) Usual muscle activations for knee stability might include the quads, the hamstrings or any of the glutes. This looks at another set of muscles all together. If you like the video or find it helpful, please do share it! Thanks!
Some tips for learning how to do deep squats (without weight). The first tip is on how to stay balanced while squatting.
How do you learn the body weight safely? How do you work towards this pose even if you aren't sure if you are capable of doing it.
Basic yoga poses: standing, sitting, arm balances, binds, twists, inversions, back bending, front bends.
Scapular stabilization becomes a little bit harder when working agains the weight of the body. It can be easier to learn if you gradually increase the amount of body weight the scapular stabilizer muscles are working againsts..
Some hip flexor strengthening exercises.
These yoga poses can be used as arm strengthening exercises.
Turn yoga poses into leg strengthening exercises using floor pressing actions, leverage and friction.
One way of finding and fixing hip problems is to do standing hip strengthening exercises while balancing on one leg.
Knee anatomy for yoga teachers looks at the bones and muscles that comprise the back of the knee in simple terms.
Working towards a kneeling quadriceps stretch you first need to be able to kneel. If you have difficulty kneeling, you may find it helps to activate your quadriceps.
When doing quadriceps stretching it may help to activate and then relax your quadriceps in these standing, lunging, pigeon and supine yoga pose variations.
Some exercises and yoga poses for working towards a lying quadriceps stretch one leg at a time.
What are the benefits of the Dance of Shiva? Arm strength and balance, learning to learn and improving creativity.
This yoga routine video is designed to help you strengthen your arms and legs via the use of friction and pressure. It also teaches you how to become more aware of your body.
The transverse abdominis muscle can be broken down into three parts. Transverse abdominal exercises can thus affect the SI Joint, lumbar spine and the lower portion of the ribcage.
To improve the resiliency of your knees it can help to exercise them in a variety of positions. The following yoga poses can be used as knee strengthening exercises. The trick is to activate your knees while doing them.
Learn to consciously control your quads and hip flexors with Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors. This downloadable video course teaches you how to feel and activate your quadriceps (the vastus muscles) as well as the rectus femoris, tensor fascae latae and sartorius muscles.
For any calf stretch you have to bend your ankle forwards to stretch the soleus and/or gastrocnemius. How you bend the ankle forwards can make the stretch more or less effective.
Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.