The Sneaky Adductors

The Sneaky Adductors

[Editor’s note :This blog was first published in 2016, but it needed an update! When I learn more info you get more info. Win-win. Now, without further ado, here’s the 2/26/18 update.]

The Adductor Group is a set of 5 muscles that live on the inner thigh. Belonging to the group are Adductor Magnus, Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longus, Pectineus and Gracilis. They all extend from the base of the pelvis and attach at points along the femur (thigh bone) with the exception of the Gracilis – it crosses the knee joint and to meet the tibia.

This collection of these muscles squeeze the legs together (a.k.a. adduction) while the Adductor Magnus is the most powerful hip extensor in the first phase of hip extension in the deep squat.

As a result of their placement in a more sensitive area (read: private) many of my clients “forget” about this muscle group. That means that most of the time clients don’t even realize how tender their Adductors get—they’re a sneaky bunch, lying there, not giving off many signals. And, then, BAM!, you try to get rid of the knots and they freak out. So sneaky.

The Adductor Group

Instead of explaining all about the adductors, I drew them for you:






While these muscles are a challenge to palpate individually, as a group they are easy to find. Go to your medial (inner) thigh, touch, that’s the Adductor group.

On your own you have a few options to tackle the tender.

Step 1: Roll it

I actually don’t like the term “rolling” when referring to using a foam roller or lacrosse ball. Reason? Rolling over the muscle quickly doesn’t do much (if anything) to release tight spots along the muscle belly.

To get results, find a tender spot and let the pressure & weight of your leg soften them until it’s not as tender, about 60-90 seconds. From there, move to another tender spot and perhaps a 3rd, but spend no more than 10 minutes on a particular muscle/group of muscles.

via: Global Bodyweight Training
via: Global Bodyweight Training

So, see? It’s not really a rolling motion at all. I like to call it melting.

There’s a lot of stuff (read: nerves, arteries, and lymph nodes) in the femoral triangle close to your hip crease, so stay in the bottom 2/3 of your thigh when rolling. As always, a pulse means to get off that area. And, we’re never looking for tingling, numbness or burning.

Step 2: Stretch It

My favorite way to access my own adductors is to stretch them. A few of my favorites include the frog stretch and the Cossack Squat. I don’t do a lot of static stretching and, instead, prefer to move slowly through a stretch. No bouncing necessary (or recommended!).

Frog Stretch

Find yourself facing the ground with wide knees and feet closer to midline than your knees. Move your hips slowly forward and back with the goal of putting your adductors through the motion of a super-wide squat. Flexing your feet will get a little bit deeper, too.

Rolling Cossack Squat

Dean Somerset has my favorite mobility move of all time. It gets into the adductors nicely, promotes ankle dorsiflexion, and gives the opposite abductors a little firing action before squatting. This drill changed my deep squat…for the better!


Step 3: Settle it

Since we need to tell our body it’s ok to keep this newfound range of motion, we’ll want to add in activation. Once you’ve done one, two, or three of the above movements, complete a goblet squat or a glute bridge with medball squeeze for 3-5 reps. Alternatively, add the foam roll release or the two dynamic drills above during warm up sets for squats, lunges, or sumo deadlifts.

Your body needs feedback from the loaded movement to convince it to keep the change in tone of the muscle for a longer term than the release alone. Let your body settle into the change and you’ll find that it lasts longer.

Incorporate these moves into your routine a couple of times per week. See how you feel and do more or less depending on your results.

Oh, and, please let me know how much you love the Rolling Cossack.


5 thoughts on “The Sneaky Adductors

  1. I love that comment about them being a sneaky bunch. I use that comment too when talking about them to my massage clients.

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