The Forgotten Adductors
I’ve seen a few people in clinic recently who, during massage, have had really sensitive adductors. I had an inkling but went on a quest to find out why.
First of all here is a little background: What are the adductors?
The “adductors” consist of five muscles: Gracilis, the Pectineus, the Adductor Magnus, Adductor Brevis and Adductor Longus.
They are found on the inside of the thigh and their main job is to pull the leg back towards the midline of the body. They also assist in hip flexion, hip extension and hip rotation.
They’re mainly used in sports such as running, football, horse riding, gymnastics and swimming - which happen to be repetitive in nature.
So why do they hurt?
Have you ever heard of a muscle imbalance? Your muscles work in pairs - you have your agonist (the one providing the movement) & the antagonist (the one that opposes the movement). The opposing muscles in this case (antagonists) are the ABDuctors: your Glutes and tensor fascia latea (TFL). The Glutes are commonly "tight" (I'll probably have to write a whole other blog to explain that one!) but Glutes - tight & ADDuctors - weak = muscle imbalance.
It is possible that your adductors are working super hard to oppose the glutes/TFL and that is why they are sore to touch - it could even be possible that they have worked SO hard that it has led to a groin strain (grade 1).
Whether you want to improve the weight you can squat, deadlift and leg press - or you are one of those who were sore during massage - it is important not to neglect this muscle group. We don't want you getting injured!
The main injury of the adductors is more commonly known as a groin strain.
A "strain" is what we call a muscle tear. These come in 3 grades: Minor (<10%), Partial (10-90%) & Severe (100%). Injury is usually caused by kicking, twisting, running or jumping but if your adductors are already "weak" or the muscle imbalance is there - you are predisposing yourself to injury.
Here are some exercises that can help prevent a groin strain by making those adductors stronger:
Adductor squeeze - Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Place a towel/pillow/small yoga ball in between your knees and squeeze!
Wide leg squat - This can be done with or without a swiss ball between your knees. The name says it all really!
Side lying leg lift - Lie on your side and cross your other leg over placing your foot flat on the floor. Raise the straight leg towards the ceiling, hold for a few seconds, lower and repeat. The picture helps explain this one.