Adductor Strengthening For Athletic Performance
Adductor training is frequently neglected or undervalued when designing programs for athletes. Stretching these muscles is important to maintain flexibility and decrease risk of injury, but there should also be an emphasis on the strength component. Strength programs tend to focus on outer hip strengthening, or the hip abductors, with minimal attention to the inner thigh. Placing more attention to this area can reduce the risk of groin injuries while protecting the knee from injury. In order to understand the importance of the adductors in relation to sports performance, we must understand where they are and what they do.
There is often confusion between our hip abductors and adductors. The adductors are located on the inner thigh and consist of five muscles. The adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracillis.
These muscles make up a large portion of our leg and are important in many movements seen in sports. The main movement of the adductors is to bring the leg from extended out to the side to back under the hip, also called “hip adduction.” For example, picture a tennis player who lunges to the side to return a ball. The adductors are responsible for the athlete returning their leg from that lateral lunge position back to midline. This holds true for rapid movements that require cutting and change of direction laterally, seen often in sports such as lacrosse and football. Another common movement of the adductors is hip flexion, or lifting the leg straight up in front of you, imagine “driving your knee up.” It is easy to see the importance of this movement because it is replicated every time an athlete runs or sprints. Our adductors also assist with rotation of the hips, specifically internal rotation. Sports that require rotational movement through the hips such as golf and softball rely heavily on adductor strength.
Below are three adductor-targeted exercises that athletes should incorporate into their strength programs.
Single Leg Bridge With Ball Squeeze
Start on your back lying on a flat surface. Draw your core inward so the low part of your back is pressed into the floor. Place a ball between your knees, squeeze into the ball and bring your hips off the floor. Keep a strong core and keep pressure into the ball. Do not let your heels come off the ground. While in your bridge, kick one leg out straight until your leg is locked, maintaining a squeeze into the ball. Bring your extended leg back to its original position, keeping your hips up, and repeat on the opposite leg. Bring hips back to their original starting position. This completes one repetition.
Adductor Side Plank Progression
Find a bench or a box of comparable height. Place one leg on top of the bench with you knee bent and foot also on the bench. Your bottom leg should be straight and underneath the bench off the ground. Set up in a side plank position, with proper alignment between your hips, knees, and shoulders. Place your elbow directly under your shoulder and while bracing your core; lift your hips off the floor. Press through the knee of the leg that is on the bench. Do not let your hips roll back or your top shoulder to roll forward. To increase the difficulty, straighten your top leg so just the ankle is on the bench. Go into your side plank from this position, pressing through the foot that is on top of the bench. The leg underneath the bench should remain straight and off the ground for both variations. Repeat for desired time and reps on each side.
Goblet Sumo Squat
Grab a dumbbell and keep it pressed against your chest with your elbows in. If you are unsure of an appropriate weight, start light and work your way up from there. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and turn your toes out. Keep the weight pressed against your chest and while maintaining an upright torso, descend into a squat at a range that is comfortable. Do not let your knees cave in and track them along the line that your toes are pointed in. Keep your feet pressed into the floor and do not lean forward. Return to your starting position, this is your first repetition.
Hockey, soccer, and football players are some of the athletes at the highest risk for an adductor strain, commonly known as a groin injury. For this reason, all athletes, but these especially, should have a strength program focusing on this muscle group to reduce risk of injury. If you need help developing a program for yourself, your child, or another athlete, contact Olympia Fitness & Performance at 401-467-6701. Schedule a session today so we can keep you strong and healthy all season long!
Pat Sturdahl worked in an outpatient physical therapy setting for over seven years before joining Olympia Fitness. He enjoys working with clients to help improve their mobility, stability and strength. Pat has experience working with local high school teams where he previously ran “Speed Schools.” This training focused on sport specific movements and plyometric drills.