August 2014 ISSUE

 

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Strengthening Your Hip Adductors
Weak hip adductors are a common problem that’s easily remedied.
Pat Massey Welter owes a personal debt of gratitude to a set of unimpressive adductors. The manager and head personal trainer for Suncoast Pilates and Yoga Center in Palm Harbor, Florida, she met her husband when he came to her looking for help.
An elite marathon runner, he had developed a problematic muscular imbalance — the result of massive abductors (outer thighs) colliding with weak adductors.

The adductors are the frequently forgotten five muscles of the inner thigh that connect to the pelvis—the Pectineus, the Adductor Magnus, the Gracilis, the Adductor Brevis, and the Adductor Longus.

“He had a major knee problem and has had knee surgery. He’s a prime example of weak adductors. Since then, through proper strengthening, Yoga, Pilates, and proper orthotics, he hopes to run the Disney Marathon this month just before his 50th birthday,” says Welter, an IDEA master trainer trained in post rehabilitation fitness and arthritis exercise programs.

The adductors play a key role in most daily activities including sitting and standing (hip flexion and extension), walking, running and are critical to sports performance. They are an important component of core strength, creating a stable foundation for more challenging deep bends and twists.

Undeveloped adductors can lead to muscle imbalance and injuries of the knee, hip, back, shoulder and neck. Tennis players, golfers, runners, and dancers are particularly vulnerable although problems are not restricted to the physically active — neglected adductors can make it difficult for couch potatoes to navigate the distance between the sofa and the refrigerator.

According to Welter many runners experience knee and hip problems due to over-developed quadriceps and under-developed inner thigh muscles. Tennis players, who use the inner thighs in transverse adduction (moving the inner thigh inward with a bent knee) are prone to knee damage from the game’s lateral movement. Golfers use both hip adductor and hip abductor muscles to stabilize their golf swing — imbalance can have a detrimental effect on their overall game.

Yoga and Pilates demand strong inner thigh muscles — fortunately, routine practice of both strengthens the inner thighs.

“I work with so many people with adductor imbalance, from athletes to seniors. A good stretching program helps to correct muscular imbalance. I teach Pilates, weight training, aquatics, stretching. I see it in all – from professional skaters who can’t complete a floor program to the senior who can’t even properly squat or sit to use the toilet due to lack of inner thigh strength,” says Welter.

She recommends Pilates Reformer exercises to train the adductors. The lunge or split squat is another favorite.

“If you have any knee injury, you shouldn’t attempt a lunge without proper clearance. A lunge can also be performed in water to support and help take stress off of the joint. If you’ve never done one before, support yourself with a hand on a chair in fixed position or a wall.”

Hip Check:

“Many people experience imbalance between the hip adductors or inner thighs and abductors, the hip and gluteus muscles. To counter this muscular imbalance, my favorite exercise is a stretch, which needs to be held at least 30 seconds,” says Welter.

Preparation:
  • On floor or mat, lie face up with arms extended at sides
  • Lift one leg straight up then bend knee and hip to 90 degrees flexion
Execution:
  • Lower bent knee leg to opposite side toward hand.
  • Hold stretch for 30 seconds, maintaining 90° flexion in hip with both shoulders flat on the floor.
  • Repeat with opposite side.
“A good stretching program is key to maintaining muscular balance. Yoga-based poses offer an excellent option for muscular imbalances. Be sure to inform your physician and physical therapist of any exercise and stretching program prior to beginning,” says Welter. “Take stretches and exercises only to the point of comfort. Don’t force any stretch.”
Before attempting any exercise or diet modification, always consult a fitness or medical professional.
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