Exploring the deep six lateral rotators of the hip
The deep six lateral rotators are a group of muscles that move the hip. Individually they are small, but together they are quite powerful. We covered one of the deep six lateral rotators, the piriformis, already. While you may not have heard of each of these muscle names, the group is an important one to consider in yoga.
What do the names of the deep six lateral rotators mean?
Gemellus superior and gemellus inferior:
The names of these muscles refer to the fact that they work together as a pair. Gemellus comes from the word “geminus” which means twin or doubled, like gemini. Superior is Latin for above. As you might expect, gemellus superior is found higher on the body than gemellus inferior. In contrast, inferior is Latin for below. So, you might guess that gemellus inferior is found lower on the body than gemellus superior.
Obturator externus and obturator internus:
The names of these muscles describe their location. Obturator refers to the muscles attachment on the obturator foramen and externus is Latin for outward. So, obturator externus attaches on the outside surface of the obturator foramen. Internus is Latin for within, so as you might guess, obturator internus attaches on the internal surface of the obturator foramen.
The name of this muscle describes its shape and its location. Quadratus comes from the Latin word quadrus which means square and the word femur is the Latin word for thigh. So, you can put that together to guess that quadratus femoris is a square-shaped muscle attached to the thigh.
Where do the deep six lateral rotators attach?
Gemellus superior and gemellus inferior originate together on the ischial spine. Obturator externus originates on the external surface of the obturator foramen. (The obturator foramen is a hole created by the bones of the pelvis.) Obturator internus originates on the internal surface of the obturator foramen. Quadratus femoris originates on the ischial tuberosities (sit bones).
All of the deep six lateral rotators insert together at the greater trochanter. Remember, that’s a bony bump at the top of the femur.
What actions do the deep six lateral rotators do?
Working together, these muscles have a common action, lateral rotation of the thigh at the hip. Additionally, the quadratus femoris also assists in adduction.
Postures where these muscles contract
The deep six lateral rotators contract in urdhva dhanurasana. But, don’t let them overpower the adductors!
Postures where these muscles are lengthened
The double pigeon is a great place to lengthen these muscles. In order to lengthen these muscles, you need to flex and externally rotate the hip joint. Take a look a the little series below which is my favorite for getting into some of those tissues.