Adductor muscle origins and insertions

Mastering the Runner’s Adductors

In this final post of my Mastering the Runners Hip Series we are investigating the runner’s groin, specifically the hip ADDuctors. If you missed the first three posts, check them out HERE, HERE, and HERE

Hip ADDuction is the movement of our leg closer to our midline (IMAGE ABOVE). The muscles of our groin or medial thigh have two options to create this motion. We can move our hip on a stable pelvis. We can move our pelvis on a stable hip. 

Both of these movement options occur when we run.

Adductor-Gluteus Medius Relationship

When we run, our hip adducts at every foot strike. Our adductors control our pelvis moving on our femur as our foot adapts to the ground. Our glute medius lengthens to assist our adductors during stance phase. Together this muscular couple works together as we contact the ground and explode into flight. The image below helps show that relationship. As the leg moves closer to the middle of the body, the blue line lengthens and the red line shortens.

Our adductors and glutes work together to control this impact. 

Our adductor’s unique anatomy gives it two secondary jobs. Their massive size and unique architecture allow them to flex and extend our hips. Our adductors absorb the impact of landing and help drive our hips forward and backward during flight. They have a lot on their plate. 

This picture shows the flight phase of running. These opposite positions of the lead and trail leg create a large amount of tension through the hips and pelvis. Our adductor’s unique anatomy picks up a large amount of this load. Imagine a stretching rubber band getting ready to fire. This “bidirectional torque potential” helps us generate power from our hip muscles. The constant tri-planar demand helps explain why the groin is often injured.

A Brief Chat on Groin Pain

It’s not surprising runners will complain about groin tightness, soreness, and even pain. There’s a lot of stuff that can cause pain in your groin. There’s a great article by Thorberg HERE that helps differentiate different pain sources. 

I think the most misdiagnosed running-related injury is a femoral neck bone stress injury. This injury will often refer to the groin and get misdiagnosed as a muscle strain or tendinitis. This injury needs to be diagnosed quickly because of potential complications. 

If you have groin pain, get it checked out by a health care provider specializing in running. 

Practical Exercises

We’ve got a good idea of the role of the adductors during running. Here are three essential drills that can get them ready to run. Give them a try during your next lifting session and let me know how they go!

Lateral Lunge with Goblet Hold

Adductor Plank

MB Scoop Toss

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Nathan Carlson PT, DPT, USATF

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