By Gavin Buehler
Glutes get all the love. For good reason too. They are a central and key group of muscles that provide movement and support through one of the most complex and burdened areas of the body, our pelvis, and hips. Of course, there’s also the aesthetic allure, whether female or male, everyone appreciates nice ass-ets. The thing is that our bones are supported and move with tensegrity (tension-integrity). Our soft tissue is a system of pulleys and levers that provide controlled varying tensions to keep us upright, balanced and moving. That means for every pull in one direction, something must provide a counter tension to support and control that movement.
Making The Case For The Adductors
Here’s where we make the case for the importance of the adductor group of muscles. While the glutes get to be the star or the show, the adductors are doing just as much work behind the scenes to ensure the glutes can get the job done. As the glutes tension the outside and back areas of the hip, the adductors are tensioning the front and inside providing balance for the hip to articulate smoothly in the socket and to keep the pelvis stable for the sacrum and spine. If you don’t have healthy adductors, you won’t have healthy glutes and you’ll probably suffer from back pain.
I mentioned in my previous article how the adductors are overlooked as their most obvious function is adduction (drawing the thigh/lower limb in toward the central axis of the body) of the thigh. But it’s important to recognize their function as a group. They are doing so much more as synergists for other muscles and dynamic stabilization. There’s a reason why there are 7 of these muscles attaching to our pelvis and fanning around our thigh at multiple angles. To put things into perspective, there are 21 muscles that cross each hip. The glutes have 9 of them covering the lateral and posterior (outside and back) portion of the hip, the adductors have 7 of them spanning the anterior and medial (front and inside) of the hip. Combined that’s two thirds of the muscles crossing the hip joint in just those two groups.
The adductors consist of one third or the muscles surrounding the hip and act as a synergist for your hip flexors (which are only 2 of 21 that cross the hip). Hip flexors also get a lot of attention for being notoriously tight, but if your adductors are not functioning optimally, guess which muscles start to feel it first?
I think that we can agree these muscles play a crucial role in our structural
wellbeing. So, let’s introduce you to the hip adductor group of muscles located along the medial (inner) thigh area of the body and give you a quick overview of what muscles are included and their known actions.
1. Adductor Brevis – adduction of the thigh, hip flexion, internal or external rotation of the femur depending on position, pelvic stability.
2. Adductor Longus – adduction of the thigh, hip flexion, external rotation of the femur, pelvic stability.
3. Adductor Magnus – adduction of the thigh, hip flexion or extension, internal or external rotation of the femur depending on position, pelvic stability. You can read more about this muscle in our previous article here.
Fun fact: This muscle is commonly the most injured adductor in the group.
4. Adductor Minimus – adduction of the thigh, external rotation of the femur, pelvic stability. Is often considered to be part of the adductor magnus.
5. Pectineus – adduction of the thigh, hip flexion up to about 45 degrees, pelvic stability.
6. Gracilis – only hip adductor to cross both the hip and knee joint. Actions include adduction of the thigh, flexion (bending) of the knee and internal rotation of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (thigh bone).
7. Obturator Externus – external rotation of the hip, hip adduction when in flexion, hip stability. (This muscle is often included with the glute intrinsic muscles. Depending on the literature it will be in either the glute or adductor groups.)
I bet that you are just itching to learn how you can strengthen these muscles now after learning how awesome they are. So, don’t forget to check out this month’s F.I.T. Tip where I take you through a simple 4 position sequence to hit all these muscles!
I hope that you found this information helpful and as always, this article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a health professional before attempting new exercises or protocols, as the content of this article may or may not be appropriate for you.