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The Ultimate Guide to Your Adductor Muscles–Everything You Need to Know to Be Pain-Free

In this post: The adductor group of muscles includes adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis. These muscles aren’t just your inner thighs–they’re an essential component to core strength! Here’s how to keep your adductor muscles strong and healthy.

a pin with a drawing of the adductor muscles

Plain and simple, your adductor muscles are your inner thighs.

All the muscles you can feel on your inner thigh–from your hip to your knee–work to adduct your femur (thigh bone). This means these muscles bring your thighs closer toward the midline of your body.

But that’s not all the adductor muscles do.

A drawing of all the muscles in the adductor group of muscles

One of the main reasons the adductor muscles are important to us is because they help stabilize and balance the other muscles in the leg. This stability benefits the health of the knees and the hips.

Also, the adductor group is 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.

Here’s more about these important muscles and how to keep them strong and healthy.

Which Muscles Are in the Adductor Group?

Your inner thigh is a pretty large space. It’s about one-fourth of your leg, so you might imagine there are a bunch of muscles in there.

Although there are 5 muscles that adduct (and are, therefore, part of the adductor group), only 3 of them have “adductor” in their name. Listed smallest to largest, your “adductor” muscles are adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus.

Your 2 other “adductors” are the pectineus and gracilis.

Where Are the Adductor Group of Muscles Located?

a drawing of the adductor longus, part of the adductor group of muscles
This is the adductor longus, but you can see the other adductor muscles in pink.

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.

a drawing of the pextineus, a muscle in the adductor group of musles
Thanks to Kenhub.com for the image.

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?

a drawing of the gracilis, a muscle in the adductor group of muscles
This is your gracilis.

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 3 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.

If you have hip or back pain that’s preventing you from living the life your dreams, I have great news for you–I created a course to teach you how to permanently ditch your pain. Enrollment for Spinal Rejuvenation is currently closed, but I would love to send you a FREE guide to hip pain relief while you wait for this course to open.

What Happens When the Adductors Don’t Work Correctly?

When the muscles are not in proper balance, there may be groin injuries. This means 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 in 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?

If you’re researching adductors today because you have some hip or back pain that you’re trying to get rid of, you’re in luck! I’ve created a course to teach you everything you need to know to permanently ditch hip and back pain. Click here to check out my Spinal Rejuvenation program.

Kenhub.com is a leader in human anatomy-related information. To learn more about the adductor muscles, check out their post. It also includes videos!

You can also check out David Keil’s post, “The Adductors: What Are The Adductor Muscles?,” or his yoga anatomy book, Functional Anatomy of Yoga. (When you buy this book through this link, I earn a small commission.)

To learn more about the adductors and other muscles in your body, check out The Concise Book of Muscles by Chris Jarmey. (Again, if you make a purchase through this link, I earn a small commission.)

If you have hip or back pain that’s preventing you from living the life your dreams, I have great news for you–I created a course to teach you how to permanently ditch your pain. Enrollment for Spinal Rejuvenation is currently closed, but I would love to send you a FREE guide to hip pain relief while you wait for this course to open.

What do you do to keep your adductor muscles healthy? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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