A look at the adductors.
“Where the heck are they?” You ask. Simple – stand up and do the splits. Yip – those are them. The adductors are found on your inner thigh and pull your leg back to your center line.
The word Adduct is a Latin word meaning, to draw toward. The adductor muscle group is made up of five muscles that run along the inside of your thigh. The pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus go from your pubic bone to your mid-thigh and are known as the short adductors, while the gracilis and adductor magnus go from your pelvis to your inner knee and are known as the long adductors. The adductor muscles are responsible for drawing your legs together to control the swinging of your legs while walking and running, and they also help stabilize your stride.
Can any of the muscles get injured?
Yes. Those that play competitive sports, think: tennis, soccer, squash, martial arts etc. can injure the muscle due to sudden changes in direction. Runners can do the same damage by slipping on a surface.
Runners, in my experience, can tighten the adductors either when doing speed work or during long runs. A typical scenario is that of a runner on a steep hill. As the glutes and hamstrings get tired, the runner swivels his/her hips and tries to push off slightly more laterally. The adductors then need to fire up to bring the slightly abducted leg back. Overtraining and lack of rest will put them at risk.
The adductors can form trigger points that can cause pain during everyday life. Pain from the adductors can radiate upwards and present as pelvic pain.
- Rest the injury. No running for a few days till it feels better.
- Get the area treated. A mix of myofascial release, dry needling and kinesiology tape will speed the process up.
- Check that all hip muscles are in balance and strong.
- Resume exercise slowly.
The information given here is relevant for strains and not for more severe injuries or tears. If pain persists you should seek medical attention. There is a chance that you are dealing with a stress fracture.
Kevin Laudner, Ph.D. and professor of kinesiology at Illinois State University says, “These inner-thigh muscles are very important for a lot of different athletic motions, but one of the key functions of these muscles during swimming, biking and running is stabilizing the pelvis and knee. When working in concert with other muscles, the adductors keep the hips and knees balanced, creating a natural alignment during these athletic motions.”
Some thoughts regarding swimming, cycling and cross training.
- I am a big fan of getting athletes to do a bit of cross-training. One of the best things you can do is breaststroke. It trains both hip adductors and abductors. I believe that any cyclist or runner would benefit from these.
- Cyclists – look at your knees during climbs. If your knees jut out when under pressure, one of two things might be happening. Your bike setup might be incorrect and/or your adductors might be weak.
- Squats can also indicate if there is adductor weakness. Knees traveling outward on the descent can indicate weak adductors.
- Here are two stretches and two strengthening exercises.
Hope that all helps.