We usually take our basic ability to walk for granted–until we slip or fall and rip, tear, strain, or otherwise injure one of the many muscles utilized in this seemingly simple action. The big mover muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes are important to walking, hiking or running, and get a lot of attention in warmups and workouts. While the larger leg muscles are indeed crucial to our forward movement, there are smaller leg muscles just as important to our forward gait. The small stabilizer muscles known as the adductor group keep our legs from turning outward or slipping sideways as we make our way up the trail or down a grocery aisle.
Leg adductor muscles are a group of seven muscles located along the inner thigh. Adductors are the muscles which “adduct” our legs, or pull (“add”) them back toward our body’s center. To feel these muscles in action, press your knees together, and notice which muscles tense and tighten. These are the muscles that keep your moving in a forward motion, over uneven or slippery terrain that would otherwise cause our legs to stray outward. If you’ve snow skied, you’ll recognize the adductors as the ones you felt aching after your first time on the slopes, working them hard to keep your skis from sliding apart. If the legs were to slip out too quickly, an adductor muscle injury would likely result.
An adductor muscle injury is often referred to as a groin pull or strain. Groin injuries are among the most common athletic injury, for both professional and recreational athletes. It’s an injury that is often avoidable, through proper warmup, stretching, and strengthening. As a society of sitters, we are often on our seats, leaving our adductors to become lax and weak. However, even athletes with strong adductors often neglect the inner thigh in warmups and stretching. Short, tight muscles can’t take much of a stretch should we hit a slippery spot on the sidewalk or must change direction quickly, making groin pulls a painfully common reality.
Today’s yoga focus is on loosening the adductor muscle group. Yoga can be an effective way to strengthen, lengthen, and loosen the muscles of the inner thigh. I’ve chosen to share two videos by “Yin Yoga with Marianne,” as she clearly explains each pose, with adaptations for various levels of flexibility.
The first video is fairly short, focusing on the posture basics for one very effective adductor stretch. Even adding a single groin stretch to your daily routine can help you avoid a painful injury. If you have a bit more time, I encourage you to give the Yin Yoga Adductor Sequences a try. Remember to listen to your body, and take your time introducing new stretches; this oft-neglected muscle group may need a few days (or weeks) to adapt to the attention!
For a more in-depth stretching, the following yoga sequence incorporates some unique poses that reach deep into the muscles of the upper legs and hips.