In this post: The adductor group of muscles include adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis. Here’s how to strengthen these important muscles.
As a whole, the adductors are important to us because they help stabilize and balance the other muscles in the leg. This provides stability that benefits the health of the knees and the hips.
The adductor group also counts as part of your core muscles because, in a vast majority of people, firing the adductors will immediately help recruit the abdominals. Most of the time, if your abdominals are not firing like they’re supposed to, they will after you engage your adductors.
What Are Your Adductor Muscles?
The adductors are a group of muscles that you might know as your inner thigh. There are 3 adductor muscles. Listed smallest to largest they are adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus.
In addition to these 3 adductor muscles, there are 2 other muscles that are generally lumped into the adductor group because they have similar locations and do the same thing as the adductor muscles. They are the pectineus and gracilis.
Here is some more specific information about these 5 muscles. I very highly recommend that you check out David Keil’s article on the adductors for some awesome graphics and additional information.
Where Are the Adductor Group of Muscles Located?
You know that your adductors are your inner thigh muscles, but it’s important to know where each muscle begins and ends. This can help you, especially if you have muscle weakness or pain.
Adductors Origin and Insertion
Adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus originate on the anterior part of the pubic bone, called the samus. The adductor magnus also starts on the ischial tuberosity. The ischial tuberosity is the IT part of the SITs bones.
So, the three adductor muscles originate along the bottom edge of the front of your pelvis. Because this is all so near the pubis, you might think of the origin as in your crotch or groin area.
The adductors insert medially the whole length of the femur, from hip to knee. This means these muscles insert right down the middle of your thigh bone.
Pectineus Origin and Insertion
The pectineus originates on the upper anterior area of the pubic bone, known as the superior ramus. This means it is a little bit further up the edge of the pelvis, a little bit farther away from the pubis.
It inserts on the upper medial shaft of the femur. This means it inserts high on your thigh bone–like so high that it would be covered by or at the bottom edge of short shorts.
Gracilis Origin and Insertion
The origin of the gracilis is the lower margin of the pubic bone. The gracilis inserts on the upper part of the medial surface of the shaft of the tibia. This means that the gracilis crosses both the hip and knee joints.
What Do the Adductors Do?
All of these muscles primarily work to adduct, or bring the leg toward the midline of the body. However, many of the muscles have secondary functions.
For example, the adductors also medially rotate the leg. This means they help your leg rotate inward. The pectineus, however, rotates the leg outward, causing lateral rotation.
The adductors longus and brevis and pectineus also flex the extended femur. This means that they bring your thigh bone in front of you.
Since the gracilis crosses the knee joint, it’s not a surprise that the gracilis also flexes the knee and medially rotates the knee joint when flexed. This means that the gracilis helps bend the knee. Also, when the knee is bent, it helps the bent knee rotate inward, toward the midline of the body.
What Happens When the Adductors Don’t Work Correctly?
When the muscles are not in proper balance, there may be groin injuries. This means that if the adductors are tight, weak, fatigued, or shortened injuries could occur. It is common for a pulled groin muscle to happen when this imbalance occurs.
While a groin pull might be felt on the thigh or up near the crotch, keep in mind that the adductors originate on the pubic bone. This means that a tight muscle could pull on your pubic bone, causing instability or dysfunction in the pubis.
How Do I Keep My Adductors Healthy?
If you have an injury, give it time to heal before beginning stretching and strengthening. I was once told that tightness is the same thing as weakness. I have found this to be true. Therefore, stretching and strengthening are crucial for the health of these muscles.
Also, if you believe you have torn any of your adductor muscles, please contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor can order all of the appropriate imaging, medication, or therapy necessary for your recovery.
However, if you want ideas to keep your adductor group of muscles strong and flexible, check out these yoga poses.
To strengthen your adductors, try:
When you practice these yoga poses, it’s important to feel like you are pushing the floor away with your legs. By doing this, you will also feel a scissoring movement, like your inner thighs are trying to move toward and past each other. This scissoring feeling indicates that your inner thighs are working and strengthening.
The best way to stretch the adductor group is with Baddha Konasana. Be patient with this stretch, and make sure to follow the directions.
When you rotate your head of your femur (thigh bone) from your hip socket, your knees will lower. However, when you try to slam your knees to the floor with the force of your arms, you will get a groin injury. So, make sure you don’t force your knees down to the ground with your arms and hands.
Want to Learn More?
For more information, I recommend “The Adductors: What Are The Adductor Muscles?” by David Keil. Also, he has a wonderful yoga anatomy book I enjoy called Functional Anatomy of Yoga. When you buy this book through this link, I earn a small commission.
Another helpful book is The Concise Book of Muscles by Chris Jarmey. I used lots of information from his book while writing this post. The link I have provided is to an updated version of the book I have. It appears to be a very thorough update, although I have not personally looked through the whole book.
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What do you do to keep your adductor grou healthy? Let us know in the comments below.