Back

Pectineus

What Is It, Location, Function, and More

Author:Ali Syed, PharmD

Editors:Alyssa Haag,Ian Mannarino, MD, MBA

Illustrator:Jillian Dunbar

Copyeditor:Sadia Zaman, MBBS, BSc


What is pectineus?

Pectineus is a flat quadrangular muscle situated in the upper portion of the thigh. The pectineus muscle belongs to a group of muscles known as the adductor muscles, which are a group of muscles located in the inner thigh that aid in balance and alignment. The adductor muscles consist of the pectineus, gracilis, adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and obturator externus.

Where is the pectineus located?

The pectineus muscle is located in the medial compartment of the thigh, specifically at the anterior (i.e. front) and medial (i.e. inner) part of the upper thigh. The pectineus muscle adducts the thigh, or moves the leg towards the middle of the body, in conjunction with the remaining adductor muscles. The pectineus muscle originates from the pectineal line of the pubic bone and inserts into the pectineal line of the femur, or thigh bone. It is the most anterior adductor of the hip and is innervated by the femoral nerve at the anterior surface of the muscle, and the obturator nerve at the posterior surface of the muscle. The main blood supply to the pectineus muscle consists of the medial circumflex femoral artery, alongside the femoral and obturator arteries. 

The pectineus muscle lies laterally to the psoas major muscle and the medial circumflex femoral artery and vein. The anterior surface of the pectineus muscle is covered with a deep layer of connective tissue, known as the fascia lata, which separates the muscle from the femoral artery, femoral vein and the great saphenous vein, which continue through the femoral triangle.

Excited Mo character in scrubs
Join millions of students and clinicians who learn by Osmosis!
Start Your Free Trial

What does the pectineus muscle do?

When the pectineus muscle contracts, it aids in flexion and adduction of the thigh at the hip joint. Flexion, also known as bending a joint, brings the thigh forward and upward to flex at the hip joint, whereas adduction moves the limb towards the middle of the body. Contraction of the pectineus muscle first causes flexion to occur at the hip joint. The consequent contraction of the muscle fibers pull the thigh towards the midline, allowing adduction to occur.

What causes pectineus pain?

The most common cause of pectineus pain is an injured pectineus muscle. The pectineus muscle can be potentially injured as a result of stretching the leg(s) too far out to the side or front of the body. Rapid movements such as kicking, sprinting, changing directions too quickly while running, or sitting with a crossed leg for a long period of time may also result in over-stretching the muscle. Other symptoms of an injured pectineus include bruising, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness in the inner part of the thigh.

How do you stretch your pectineus muscle?

Many stretches that engage the adductors of the leg will also stretch the pectineus muscle, such as the lateral lunge, adductor stretch, and hurdle stretch. In a lateral lunge, an individual stands with their feet flat on the ground and hip-width apart, takes a large step to the side with their left leg, then bends the left knee, pushes their hips back, and lowers their body until the left knee is bent to a 90-degree angle. This can be repeated on the other side. 

An adductor stretch is accomplished in a seated position, by bringing the heels towards the glutes and dropping both knees out towards the side to form a diamond shape.

In a hurdle stretch, an individual sits on the floor with their back straight and one leg bent behind so that the heel is touching their buttock and the other leg is extended forward with the toes pointing upwards. The arms are then stretched out in front and are slowly arched forward until the individual can grab their toes with their hands.

What are the most important facts to know about pectineus?

The pectineus muscle is a flat quadrangular muscle situated in the anterior and medial side of the thigh and belongs to a group of muscles known as the adductor muscles. The main blood supply of the pectineus muscle consists of the medial circumflex femoral artery, alongside the femoral and obturator arteries. The pectineus muscle functions to flex and adduct the thigh at the hip joint when it contracts. There are various stretches that can aid in stretching the pectineus muscle and these include the lateral lunge, adductor stretch, and hurdle stretch. 

Quiz yourself on Pectineus

11 Questions available

Quiz now!

Watch related videos:

Mo with coat and stethoscope

Want to Join Osmosis?

Join millions of students and clinicians who learn by Osmosis!

Start Your Free Trial

Related links

Muscles of the gluteal region and posterior thigh
Muscle contraction

Resources for research and reference

Kiel, J., & Kaiser, K. (2021, July 25). Adductor strain. In: Statpearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493166/

Kim, H., Kim, W. K., Kim, Y. S., & Nam, Y. S. (2021). Morphologic classification and innervation patterns of the pectineus muscle. Anatomical science international, 96(4), 524–530. DOI: 10.1007/s12565-021-00619-6

Marieb, E. N. & Hoehn, K. (2012). Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th ed.). USA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Schantz-Feld, M. (2020). The Anatomy of the Pectineus Muscle-Flexor of the Thigh. In Verywell Health. Retrieved August 31, 2021 from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/pectineus-muscle-anatomy-5084562

Zaban, S (2020). Muscle Breakdown: Pectineus. In Your House Fitness. Retrieved Sept 24, 2021 from: https://www.yourhousefitness.com/blog/muscle-breakdown-pectineus