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The Adductors are a group of inner thigh muscles. They are called that because their most obvious job is to adduct (pull in towards the midline) the leg. Like most basic anatomy, that is simplistic. They run from the pelvis down the inside of your thigh to the knee (some above, two at or below) and are associated with, and affect, the pelvis, hip and knee.
You might have been doing exercises that ostensibly strengthen this muscle group at the gym on an adductor machine, where you sit, legs straddled with a pad on the inside of your knees and you squeeze your legs together, with resistance in the form of a weight (remember the ThighMaster?). If you do mat classes, you’ve been lying on your side and lifting the ground side leg up, or maybe standing on a Pilates reformer and pushing or pulling your legs together, or placing a Pilates circle or ball between your knees and squeeze!
Those exercises use this group of muscles on one plane – the frontal plane (or side to side as opposed to front to back). But what if these muscles are already short and tight and you are working on mainly concentric strengthening (like the above exercise examples). It’s like doing a kegel for your inner thighs – all squeeze and no release. (Note that most of the examples above are done in hip and knee flexion!)
So for the release part, we do the V Sit and Legs on the Wall exercises from this post.
One of the adductor muscles, the Adductor Magnus, has a portion which acts more like a hamstring muscle due to its attachment site on the back of the pelvis, and is often called “the fourth hamstring” – indeed the two portions of the same muscle are innervated by different nerves! What an interesting muscle!
Another interesting fact about the Adductor Magnus is the attachment onto the femur (thigh bone) is arched, and a gap (called a hiatus) is formed where the femoral artery and vein (and other structures) pass through – this is an important landmark which supplies blood to the knee and lower leg.
You do not want these muscles to be short and tight!
It’s important to acknowledge the contribution of the adductor group to stabilization of the hip and pelvis, and its role in sagittal plane activites (walking, running) as opposed to always thinking of it as a group of muscles that only pull the leg across the midline.
Keep up the Legs on the Wall and V Sit when you can – surely the importance of this group being able to give you adequate range of motion for the hip and knee is obvious – the structure is complex and affects you in more than one plane!
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