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Bound angle pose (pictured below) is supposed to stretch the inner thigh muscles and groin, but I can't even get to the point of feeling anything in in those areas because something in my outer hips is so tight it prevents me from getting my knees down toward the floor.

Bound Angle Pose

In a wide angle seated forward bend (pictured below), on the other hand, I do feel the stretch in my inner thighs, and it doesn't affect my outer hips.

Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend

I do yoga frequently and the tension in my outer hip has persisted. It's much tighter on my right side than on my left, so I worry about it causing imbalance-related problems in my body.

Which muscle is causing the tension? Are there any stretches that will actually increase its flexibility (standard yoga poses haven't seemed to help). Unilateral stretches would be better so I can focus more on the right side.


Here's a visual of where I feel the tension. I realize the position of tension corresponds to the gluteus medius, but that muscle shouldn't be stretched in these positions... should it?

enter image description here

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Can you pinpoint where the tension really is? It would help us figure out what structures might be resisting –  Ivo Flipse Apr 7 '11 at 18:00
    
Try this stretch. –  Jay Apr 8 '11 at 16:37
    
Please update your answer to explain what 'this stretch' is and why you believe that this will solve @Barbie's problem. –  Ivo Flipse Apr 8 '11 at 17:35
    
If I do the stretch at the same angle as the guy in the video, it doesn't do much for me. But if I get into his position then bring my thigh towards my torso (still keeping the leg straight and close to the floor) so my leg is at least perpendicular to the rest of my body, omfg. I -think- it stretches the same spot as when I do bound angle pose. Am still stretching the gluteus medius in the modified position, or is it a different muscle? –  Barbie Apr 8 '11 at 17:55
    
@Ivo - I was hoping the alternate stretch would take some of the tension out of the equation since the stretch works one leg at a time. I will also say that, as a man, stretching this part of the body requires very different movements for me than it does for most women, men's hips and pelvises (pelvii?) just aren't made the same way... –  Jay Apr 8 '11 at 19:47

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Looking at the two poses you can see that in the first pose, bound angle pose, the hip goes into flexion, abduction and external rotation.

In the second pose, the hip is flexed and abducted, but appears to be in neutral rotation.

So it would seem that the key to your difficulty with the first pose and not the second is the inability to externally rotate the hip. If the reason is structural - the way your femur is formed, then stretching exercises will not change your ability to externally rotate significantly. If tight muscles are the cause, you can make changes over time.

Tight internal rotators could be the limiting cause (by limiting the external rotation). There are several muscles that contribute to internal rotation of the hips:

• the anterior fibers of the gluteus medius and minimus (as you have noted are the area you feel pain)

• the tensor fascia lata (TFL)

• medial hamstrings

Additionally, other muscles like the adductors contribute to internal rotation depending on the degree of hip flexion. The hip muscles often have more than one function depending on the direction of the fibers or the position of the hip.

To lengthen these muscles you can use stretching and massage. PNF techniques like contract/relax or hold/relax can help with your stretching. Here is a nice article for releasing hip internal rotators with yoga in mind.

Tennis ball massage will also help with the release of tight muscles - placing the ball on the belly of the muscle and then relaxing some of your body weight onto the ball. This video demonstrates a TFL release.

You can also use the tennis ball approach for the gluteus medius. Similar to the video for the tensor, lie partially on your side rather than on your stomach. Place the tennis ball just in front or in back of your hip and the point of tension on the soft tissue, not on the bone. (You have identified the point of tension in your diagram.) Then slowly roll some of your weight forward or back onto the ball being careful not to cause pain. Do not overdo. Only put as much weight on the ball as is comfortable. You can release the medial hamstrings with the ball or with a foam roller. Massage therapy may also help.

Hopefully with stretching and massage you can release the muscles causing you pain.

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Wow, thank you for the great answer! I'm going to have to go buy some tennis balls. –  Barbie Jun 20 '11 at 20:31
    
You are welcome. Hope they help. –  BackInShapeBuddy Jun 20 '11 at 21:09

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