What is the Pectineus?

Alex Paul

The pectineus muscle is located in the upper thigh on the medial side. It forms part of the short adductor muscle group along with other muscles such as the adductor brevis and longus. The primary actions of the muscle are to adduct as well as flex the thigh at the hip joint. This means it’s an important muscle for everyday activities such as kicking a soccer ball.

The pectineus is used in kicking a soccer ball.
The pectineus is used in kicking a soccer ball.

The pectineus is located between the adductor longus muscle and the iliopsoas. It is a quadrangular muscle and is also involved in hip flexion. Although the pectineus muscle is sometimes considered to be part of the short adductor muscle group, it’s also commonly referred to as a hip flexor. Hip flexor muscles help keep the legs together during flexion.

The pectineus is responsible for flexing the thigh at the hip joint.
The pectineus is responsible for flexing the thigh at the hip joint.

As the pectineus muscle is located toward the medial side of the upper thigh, it originates on a small area of raised bone on the pubis. The muscle then attaches on the femur at a point known as the pectineal line. In anatomy, the innervation of a muscle describes how it is connected to the body’s nervous system. The innervation of the pectineus is via the femoral nerve in the majority of cases. In some people it is attached differently via a nerve called the accessory obturator.

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All the muscles located toward the medial side of the upper thigh are prone to injury — especially during sharp and explosive movements such as those found in some sports. Stretching the groin muscles of both legs is important for people who regularly play sports. An example of a pectineus stretch involves the stretcher sitting with his or her legs crossed out in front of them. The arms are then placed gently on the knees and the trunk slowly moved forward until a stretch can be felt. This should be held for around 30 seconds.

To strengthen the pectineus a number of different exercises can be used. For example, hip adduction using some form of resistance works on several of the inner groin muscles. This involves attaching a resistance band to the ankle and securing it against a table or other solid object while making sure the person is side on to the object. The athlete then slowly pulls his or her leg towards the body while keeping the knees straight. It’s important to keep the hips as straight as possible during the exercise in order to gain the most benefit.

Athletic trainers may use massage to relieve tightness and pain in the pectineus.
Athletic trainers may use massage to relieve tightness and pain in the pectineus.

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Discussion Comments

anon106881

Confusing article. Doesn't give a clear explanation of technical terms. Reads like a medical textbook instead of a comprehensible, helpful guide. Nearly useless to a layperson.

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