Back to some posts to help you get strong, stay strong and injury free. We all want to be injury free but no one ever is. Some of us get injured frequently for various reasons; accidents, muscle imbalances, neglecting things like posture, motion of our body and we can probably throw stress in there.
Some of these are out of our control. We would like to avoid accidents but that’s not always up to us. And poor posture could be due to our job such as having to stand all day, sit in a chair all day, work in awkward positions and working in an environment that requires repetitive motion.
But let’s look at things we can control specifically muscle imbalances, and specifically the adductor muscles.
You may not have heard of this group of muscles but don’t stop your reading here and head off to Youtube to watch the latest trending videos. Keep reading and find out why this group of muscles is very important for your day to day activities and for performance.
The adductors are made up of 5 muscles: Adductor Longus, Adductor Magnus, Adductor Brevis, Gracilis, and the Pectineus.
Wow! Five muscles and what do they do? You can think of these muscles being responsible for moving your leg towards your body, back along side your other leg. Think of standing, legs side by side shoulder width. Now, move one leg out to the side away from your body. Not to the front, not to the back but to the side. Your abductor muscles did the work move the leg out to the side. Now to bring the leg back we need to use our adductor muscles. Remember, muscles can only pull, they can’t push so the adductor muscles that are connected to the pelvis and to the inside of femur (upper leg bone) pull the leg back.
But that’s not it. If you have weak adductor muscles you may just also have knee pain.
What are you knees doing when you squat? Do they turn in? Another sign of possible weak adductors.
It makes sense though. We tend to neglect this group of muscles because in my opinion we don’t think of these muscles when we think of strong legs. People would rather spend time doing squats, or lunges, but mainly squats. Squats give us that large leg look, especially on the outside of the upper leg. No one really worries much about having large thighs on the inside.
But we should think about strengthening our adductors especially if we are active and want to remain active. If you are someone who already is active and are already doing exercises like squats, lunges, etc, building your legs, and glutes, you want to work on those adductors. Are you able to do the butterfly stretch easily? Knees almost touching the ground when you do this stretch? That’s because your adductors are loose, lengthy. You are then probably a good candidate to build those adductors as you may already be dealing with a muscle imbalance.
We know what the adductors do, they move our legs back to the centre of our body from being off and out to the side. Knowing that, it would make sense to work the adductors we need to add resistance to the motion of bringing our leg back to and it bit beyond resting position. Let’s look at what exercises we can do to strengthen these 5 muscles:
- Band hip adduction: I’m a big fan of exercise bands because they are inexpensive, easy to take with you, and you can use them pretty much anywhere. To do this exercise attach one end of the ban to a stationary object and the other end to your ankle. Start with your foot about a foot or more out from where that foot would be if you were standing naturally. Make sure there is tension on the band. Now, move that foot back towards the centre of your body but don’t stop there. Go past centre if you can by about 6″ to 12″. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Semi-Prone Hip adduction: Laying on your side, the arm on the ground extended upwards, the other arm in front of your chest with the hand on the ground for support, bring the foot of the upper leg close to your bum resting the foot on the ground. The upper leg should be bent at almost 90 degrees with the foot behind your lower leg (the leg on the side you are laying on). Now, with the lower leg fully straightened out, raise it up off of the ground trying to lift that foot as high as it can go (it probably won’t be that high). Play around with the positioning of your body. You want to be in a comfortable position. You can have the foot of the upper leg (the leg not on the ground) in front of the leg on the ground if that works better. As long as the load is during the motion of bringing the leg back to and past centre of your body then you are good. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Semi-Prone Hip adduction – chair: Same positioning as above except your upper leg, the one not on the ground is resting on a chair. You might want something soft under your foot on the chair since the load will be on this foot. Now with that upper leg straight, raise your lower leg as close as you can to the upper leg. Unlike the previous exercise, it’s the upper leg that is doing the work, not the bottom. Do this for each leg, 3 sets of 12 reps.
Seems simple, doesn’t it. It is! The hard part is putting the time aside to work on the adductors. But if you can find some time twice a week, that’s a good start, a really good start. Think of it as this: you’ve never done any exercises for the adductors so twice a week is a lot more that what you were doing before.
Caution: like any muscle that is neglected, those adductors are really going to hurt after the first workout. Take it easy the first time because unlike some other muscles in our body, these are in our legs and we need those to walk.
Yours in health,