Lateral Muscles: Hip Muscles


  • The lateral muscles are located on the side body and include the external rotators and abductors.
  • They are strengthened by standing poses, backbends and balancing poses.

External Rotators

  • Muscles: Piriformis, Superior Gamellus, Obturator Internus, Inferior Gamellus, Quadratus Femoris
  • Description: Under the glute maximus are six deep lateral rotator muscles. The best known of these is the piriformis. They attach laterally onto or near the greater trochanter of the femur (thigh bone), running from the pelvis to the femur.
  • Actions: The rotators move the ball of the femur in the socket to rotate the thighs away from the midline. They are responsible for lateral rotation of the thigh at hip joint, medial rotation of the thigh at the hip joint, abduction of the thigh

Teaching Considerations

  • They stabilize the pelvis on the femur by keeping the femur head in the acetabulum.
  • These muscles help maintain the connection of the spine, pelvis and leg.
  • They’re felt in such poses as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana and Agnistambhasana.
  • A tight piriformis may put pressure on the sciatic nerve, creating intense pain.
  • See also: Sciatica

Abductors / Internal Rotators

  • The primary hip abductors (moving the femur away from the midline of the body) are the tensor fascia latate (TFL), gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. They also help to rotate the femur medially (toward the midline).

Teaching Considerations

  • The abductors steady the pelvis when standing on one or two legs.
  • They prevent the front knee from falling inward in standing poses.

Power & Strength

Once the connection between the hip external rotators, hip abductors, and hip adductors is working functionally, power and strength can develop. – Susi Hately Aldous