I recently attended a deep tissue massage course in Sydney where I was introduced to the obturator internus muscle. I probably should have known where it is in the body and what it does but, I have to admit, I didn’t. The reason being is that it is in a pretty personal part of the body that I tend to stay away from during professional massage.
Now the formal description of the location of this muscle is that it “originates on the medial surface of the obturator membrane, the ischium near the membrane, and the rim of the pubis”. In language a little easier to understand it runs from the pelvic floor muscle, under and around sit bone (the ischial tuberosity) and attaches near the femoral head in the hip. It is one of a group of muscles that laterally rotates the hip (and it also assists in the abduction of the thigh).
Although I can understand that as a hip rotator that it may be important to release the obturator internus if someone is having hip problems, but given that I was not aware of it before the course, I think it is probably less important than other hip rotators such as piriformis.
On the course we spent over an hour talking about the obturator internus, receiving demonstrations on how to massage it and then practising working on it. All well and good in terms of improving the knowledge and education of the therapists, learning in a safe and supervised session. There seemed to be a real buzz and energy in the class about this one muscle that unnerved me though.
Although we are only talking about soft tissue bodywork, working in and around this part of the body is fraught with danger. If I went into see a therapist for the first time and they started massaging my obturator internus, I would be concerned that I was in the wrong type of massage establishment.
It is a highly personal area of the body that, in my view, the vast majority of massage therapists should never consider working. Yes knowledge of the anatomy and physiology is good but this type of bodywork should only be performed by therapists who are recognised as being experts and specialists in working with hip and pelvic floor issues (releasing and relaxing the obturator internus may be indicated with people who have a dysfunctional pelvic floor).
Maybe I picked up the vibe of the class wrong but just seemed that there was going to be a whole group of therapists targeting this previously unheralded muscle on an unsuspecting public.
Suffice to say though that you can rest assured that I would never be asking you the title question of this post.