Client: “This is a little awkward, but I’ve been having this pulling pain on the inside of my thigh. The pain is more towards the middle of the thigh and the inside of the knee. I can’t play soccer with my kid very well right now, and it’s becoming hard to walk. Any ideas?”
Personal Note: After the initial observation, it just seemed like the client’s adductors were tight. I don’t know if there was anything medical involved, but that was my superficial observation.
Thigh Adductors are a group of five muscles that go from the top of the femur to the knee. They attach to different parts of the femur, allowing for slightly different movements of the leg. The easiest way to remember “adductor” is to say they “add to the body,” meaning it brings the thigh inward.
- Adductor Magnus: A two part muscle, part hamstring and part adductor. It’s the largest muscle of the adductor group, and lays more towards the back of the thigh to help the hamstrings bend and extend the thigh. Magnus really does go from the top to the bottom of the femur bone.
- Adductor Longus: This is the first muscle of the upper thigh that you would come into contact with during palpation near the femoral triangle. Longus is a flat muscle that goes from the pubis and attaches widely to the femur. Adduction and medial rotation (pointing your toes inward) of the thigh are the actions it controls.
- Adductor Brevis: Between two divisions of the femoral nerve (inner thigh nerve) lays a shorter muscle called Adductor Brevis. Brevis attaches from the pubic bone and attaches near the top of the femur and its only action is to adduct the thigh.
- Obturator Externus: Near the very top curve of the femur is Obturator Externus, which is a small muscle that fits into the little space between the pubic bone and the inner femur. Instead of adducting, it actually rotates the thigh, so your toes are sticking out away from each other.
- Gracilis: The longest muscle of this group is Gracilis, which runs all the way from the pubic bone down past the knee to attach to the Tibia (shin bone). Being one of the longer (and stronger) muscles, it can adduct at the hip and help flex the leg at the knee.
Why do the Adductors get tight?
To put it simply: no one uses them and most people who do deskwork don’t remember they’re there. Usually, exercise like rock climbing, soccer, or running will remind people of the inner thigh muscles. There is a familiar stretch that most people have been doing since the gym days in middle school that stretches the adductors: the Butterfly stretch. Evolve Fitness and Health reminds us how to do the stretch properly:
Remember: A stretch should not be painful. If your legs start shaking or you’re feeling pain, back up the stretch a little. This will prevent overstretching and injury.
Does Massage help the adductors?
Ask your local Massage Therapist if they know the main way to work in the adductor muscles. Most therapists do, but it’s still safe to ask. There is a stretch and press motion that’s typical for Massage Therapists to use on the adductors.
If pain is associated with the appointment, tell your Therapist. Don’t be afraid to speak up, as the pain will just cause more tension.