The Adductors Thigh Muscles

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.

This article was edited and updated on November 9, 2015.

The Adductors

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.

To move the leg toward the midline, these muscles are helpful.

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.

The Abductors

You can learn more about these muscles at The Glutes.

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.

Suggested Exercises:

Stretches for Adductors/Abductors in the Leg

Other pages about other muscles:

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.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. See Three Leg Bones: The femur, the tibia, and the fibula for more information about the femur or tibia.