Hip Mobility Week 8 - The 1/2 Kneeling Adductor Dip
By David Drinks
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve taken some time to focus on ways to mobilize the posterior aspect of the hip as well as the hip rotator muscles – including the glutes, piriformis, and other smaller muscles on the back of the hip.
However, this week it’s time to switch gears a bit and focus on the inner thigh.
When talking about the inner thigh, we’re mainly looking at the adductor muscle group.
Unfortunately, the adductors don’t get much love when it comes to the mainstream media talking about exercises and stretches. The hamstrings and hip flexors, among other popular muscles, tend to get a lot more attention. Everyone talks about the need to stretch your hamstrings and your hip flexors to prevent injuries or pain, but are they really the only problems?
One thing that most people don’t recognize about the thigh is that the adductor muscles on the inner thigh make up a larger portion of the thigh than even the hamstrings do. In fact, the Adductor Magnus – the largest of the adductor muscles – takes up just about as much room on the thigh as all three hamstring muscles put together!
And that’s not the only adductor muscle!
The main players in the adductor muscle group are:
In addition to the fact that the adductor muscles make up a good portion of the thigh musculature; when you look at their function, you realize that they not only play a role in hip adduction (i.e. bringing the leg toward the midline of the body), but they also play a role in both hip flexion AND hip extension, as well as hip internal rotation.
As you can appreciate, the adductors play a huge role in how you move at your hips and can have a large impact on your hip mobility.
If you have excessive tightness through your adductors, it’s going to affect your ability to move the hip in all planes of motion. Often, you will be most limited in hip abduction and external rotation. In other words, you will struggle to take your leg out to the side away from your body and rotate it away from your body.
However, if you have enough tightness in the adductors, you’re also going to be limited in hip flexion and hip extension to a certain degree. This is usually where the hamstrings or hip flexors take the sole blame of preventing you from flexing your leg forward or extending your leg backward, but we can't forget the interplay of all the muscles that take part in this, and the adductors are no exception.
I know, I know. All this talk about hip flexion, extension, abduction, and rotation can be enough to make some people’s eyes glaze over….so let me simplify it a bit. If you have tight adductors, you’re going to have limitations in your hip mobility in just about every direction.
That hip tightness is also likely to present in some functional limitations, such as an inability to do a deep squat, or even just sit and cross your legs easily (remember criss-cross applesauce from kindergarten?).
Now, why is it that your adductors could become so tight? Well, as with many other muscles around the hip, if you don’t move them you tend to lose mobility. A lot of sitting and a lack of purposeful stretching and mobility work can certainly lead to excessive tightness.
Another factor specific to the adductors is that all five muscles in the adductor group attach to the pelvic bone in a very small area on the inside of your hip. Anytime that you have a bunch of muscles with tendons that all come together and attach in a relatively small area, there’s more opportunity for the friction of those tendons to cause stiffness and pain. It’s not all that uncommon to have soreness or pain develop in the groin region due to this.
On top of that, the rectus abdominis – one of the major abdominal muscles (the one you think of when talking about “6 pack” abs) – attaches just on the other side of the pubic bone to the adductor muscles, and so there is constantly a bit of tug of war going on between the abdominal muscles and the adductor muscles (particularly the adductor longus).
Developing tightness through your adductors can lead to other abdominal muscles losing that tug of war, and can impact your pelvic position, leading to many other potential issues. In this scenario, the adductors pull down on the front of the pelvis, tipping the pelvis forward. This can result in a chronic stretch and inhibition of the rectus abdominis muscle, which ultimately has the potential to influence injuries such as different kinds of hernias, and even low back pain.
So, all that to say that your adductors are a big and important muscle group that can cause some major problems if they’re not both long and strong!
Hopefully, you now appreciate more of the need for mobilizing your adductors. So, let’s get right into today’s mobility drill – the ½ Kneeling Adductor Dip:
The adductor dip is a great way to mobilize the adductors from where they course down the inside of the thigh, up to where they attach near the groin.
You can also very effectively mobilize both hips at once, with the kneeling leg moving into hip abduction, and the other leg set up in an externally rotated, flexed, and abducted position. As you’ll feel when you do it, it’s a very effective stretch for both sides!
As I mentioned in the video, it’s also a great method to work on some ankle mobility which many people need as well.
The adductor dip, as a mobility drill, works well as part of a dynamic warm-up routine. It’s not something that you need to do a ton of or hold for a long time to get benefit from. Rather, it’s a mobility drill that can help lengthen the adductors and prepare them to move better for the rest of your workout when done as part of the warm-up.
As with many of the other mobility drills we have talked about, doing the adductor dip in small doses, but regularly (2-4x/week), can allow you to make big improvements in your adductor mobility. I tend to prescribe it in one set of 5-8 reps on each side as part of the warm-up so that we’re getting that small dose of adductor mobility before each workout.
So, if you have some tightness in your adductors, get to work right away on the 1/2 Kneeling Adductor Dip!
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