Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.
Adductors are any muscles which help to draw a body part toward the median of the body. There are adductor muscles in various parts of the body to assist in that movement.
Four muscles on the inside of the thigh are quite large and considered to be important adductors. They are: Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longus, Adductor Magnus, and Sartorius. (See chart — courtesy of FCIT — at the right.) Gracilis is also sometimes included in this group, but it is not in the drawing.
These muscles originate in various areas of the pelvis and insert into the femur or the tibia. 2
Their primary function is to adduct the thigh (i.e. bring the leg toward the midline of the body), but they also assist in flexing and medially rotating the thigh.
Abductors are any muscles which draw a body part away from the median of the body.
For example, the hip abductor muscles are located in the buttocks region on both sides of the body. Their names are: 1) Gluteus Maximus, 2) Gluteus Medius, 3) Gluteus Minimus, and 4) Tensor Fascia Lata. The first three muscles are discussed in the article titled The Glutes. The Hip Flexors also help to move the leg away from the body.
It is important to remember that the use of the terms "adductors" and "abductors" describes the action that the muscle can do — but it is not the name of the muscle. The term is an anatomical term of motion. There are many muscles which work as abductors — seven in our hands, fingers, and thumbs, and nine in our legs and toes.
Exercises for Adductors/Abductors in the Leg
Any exercise during which the leg moves out to the side will assist the adductors to be stronger. There are also adductor machines and devises strictly designed to strengthen these muscles.
If you exercise adductors, you will probably also exercise the abductors as they are opposing muscles. So, for instance, move your leg out to the side and back to your midline and you have used both adductors and abductors.
Standing or Lying Hip Adduction: In a standing position, or on a mat lying on your side, move your leg out and away from your body. Hold at the outer position for a few seconds. Return to a normal position. Repeat as many times as you wish, or until you are fatigued.
Squat and Step: Stand with feet hip-width apart and lower down into a 1/2 squat. Step left with your left leg (push through the heel of your foot). Then move the right foot so that your feet are again hip-width apart. Repeat 10-20 times and then do the same procedure on the right foot.
Stretches for Adductors/Abductors in the Leg
Standing Groin Stretch: Begin by putting your feet wider than your shoulders — as far as you can comfortably go — and then flex your knees very slightly. Lean gently forward at the waist while placing your hands on the front of your thighs. Flex your left knee just a little farther (your torso will also go in that direction). As you lean, your right leg will straighten. Hold in that position for as long as you are comfortable. Then do the same procedure with the other leg.
Sitting Butterfly Stretch: Sit on a mat with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Grab your feet with your hands and pull them toward you. Put your elbows between your knees and lean forward. Press your elbows downward so that your legs go farther apart. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
Other pages about other muscles:
- The Abdominals
- The Deltoids
- The Erector Spinae: Spine Muscles
- The Forearm, Elbow, and Wrist
- The Glutes
- The Hamstrings: Back of the Thigh
- The Hip Flexors
- Latissimus Dorsi: The Lats
- The Lower Leg: The Calf and the Shin
- Muscles of the Head
- Opposing Muscles
- Pectoralis Major and Minor: The Pecs
- The Quadriceps: The Front of the Thigh
- Taking Care of your Feet
- The Trapezius and the Rhomboids
- The Upper Arm: The Biceps and the Triceps
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.
These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. ↩
See Three Leg Bones: The femur, the tibia, and the fibula for more information about the femur or tibia. ↩