Adductor Group of Muscles

Adductor Group of Muscles

Adductor muscles of the hip

What is the adductors’ purpose? Why do they need to be almost as large as the quads, whose action we know to be crucial for everyday activities such as walking up inclines, climbing stairs, and rising from chairs?

Before we dig into the function of the adductors, let’s clarify their exact location. There are five adductors, and they all originate on the pubic bones and the ischial tuberosities (sitting bones). Two of the adductors, the pectineus, and the adductor brevis, are quite short and insert on the back of the upper femur (thighbone). The adductor longus and adductor Magnus are longer and larger, and insert at the back of the thighbone, on the middle and lower part of the shaft. The longest adductor, the gracilis, inserts below the knee, on the inner upper tibia (shinbone).

Together, all five of these muscles adduct the hip; in layman’s terms, they pull the thighs together. Several of them also have good leverage to flex the hip, pulling the thigh and torso toward each other. The other actions of the adductors are quite complicated. Depending on the position of the leg, they may also help rotate the thighbone internally or externally in the hip socket, or help extend the hip. (A hip is in extension when the upper leg is in line with or slightly behind the torso.)

Your adductors are quite easy to feel with your own hands. Start by lying down on your back with your legs out straight, and slide the tips of your right fingers down your belly until you can feel your right pubic bone. Then move your fingers about an inch and a half out to the right and about an inch down into your right groin. Squeeze your thighs together and you will feel the large adductor tendon become firm as the muscles pull it taught. If you continue this squeezing action, you should be able to trace the firm shape of the contracting muscles most of the way down to your knee.


The adductor group is made up of:

Origin and insertion

The adductors originate on the pubis and ischium bones. and insert on the medial, posterior[citation needed] surface of the femur.


They are supplied by the obturator nerve.[1] except for a small part of the adductor Magnus, which is innervated by the tibial nerve.


In 33% of people, a supernumerary muscle is found between the adductor brevis and minimus. When present, this muscle originates from the upper part of the inferior ramus of the pubis from where it runs downwards and laterally. In half of the cases, it inserts into the anterior surface of the insertion aponeurosis of the adductor minimus. In the remaining cases, it is either inserted into the upper part of the pectineal line or the posterior part of the lesser trochanter. While similar to its neighboring adductors, it is formed by separation from the superficial layer of the obturator externus and is thus not ontogenetically related to the adductors.[2]


So-called adductor tenotomy (cutting the origin tendons of the adductor muscles of the thigh) and obturator neurectomy (cutting the anterior branch of the obturator nerve) is sometimes performed on children with cerebral palsy. These children often have a hypertonia of the adductor muscles, making abduction difficult, obstructing normal hip development, and putting them at risk of hip luxation.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Q  I understand that the adductor complex has responsibility in all three planes of motion. My question is: Of the five muscles that make up the adductor complex, which muscles are responsible for internal rotation, which ones for external rotation and at which points in the gait phase specifically, or do they all primarily work together in the same direction at the same time when producing concentric and eccentric force? Are any of these individual muscles specifically susceptible to lengthening and/or shortening more than others within the complex? What common compensatory movement patterns would be visible in the transverse plane and which muscles would be the cause of this (relating, once again, to the adductors)?

In order to answer your question as thoroughly as possible, I have broken the question down into three parts. First I want to address muscle action. The adductor complex is quite complex. Each muscle within the complex has a unified purpose but works individually within different ranges of motion and different planes of motion. So far, no one is able to agree on exactly how the function of the adductors. We, at NASM, have chosen to look at the adductor complex from a mechanical standpoint. Considering the origin and insertion of each particular muscle and its integrated function in different planes of motion, we have tried to break down each muscles’ action as simple as possible. The following table lists each muscle’s origin and insertion as well as the muscles’ function in each plane.


O: superior ramus of the pubis
I: pectineal line of the femur between the lesser trochanter and linea Aspera

1. Frontal plane: adduction
2. Transverse plane: internal rotation
3. Sagittal plane: flexion
 Adductor Brevis  

O: inferior ramus of pubis
I: pectineal line and the medial lip of linea Aspera

1. Frontal plane: Acceleration of femoral adduction
2. Transverse plane: external rotation
3. Sagittal plane: assists in hip flexion
 Adductor longus  

O: Front of pubis runs obliquely between pubic crest and symphysis
I: Middle 1/3 of medial lip of linea Aspera

Upper portion:1. Frontal plane: adduction
2. Sagittal plane: extension
3. Transverse plane: internal rotation lower portion:1. Frontal plane: adduction
2. Sagittal plane: extension
3. Transverse plane: external rotation
 Gracilis O: Pubic symphysis and pubic ramus
I: Proximal, medial surface of the tibia joining at the Pes Anserinus tendon
1. Frontal plane: adduction
2. Transverse plane: internal rotation


In response to the second part of your question, normal gait requires that the adductors function as neutralizers. Their job is to control unwanted action when a person is moving in the sagittal plane. The adductors work in conjunction with the abductors so that there is limited frontal plane movement. During stance, the adductors act as stabilizers. Their function is to stabilize the lumbopelvic-hip complex. Only during specific movement patterns, such as kicking a soccer ball or cutting across your body, are the adductors performing a specific concentric action. However, each action within the body requires inter-muscular coordination. There is no true isolation of muscles because the nervous system recruits muscles in synergies. Based on this, it is hard to decipher exactly what muscles would be prone to lengthening or shortening because it would require an assessment of what other imbalances are present. Muscle imbalances are very individualized. We cannot say that specific muscles within the complex are more prone to shortening or lengthening because of their integrated function. For example, if the leg is in an abducted position, the adductor Magnus will kick in to adduct the leg because mechanically it is in the best position. But, after the leg crosses the iliac crest, the pectineus and adductor brevis will begin to dominate the motion. So, each adductor has a primary, secondary, and tertiary function and each has an integrated purpose. As such, it would be too difficult to differentiate one muscle within the complex being more susceptible to lengthening or shortening more than another.

In reference to your last question, compensatory movement patterns in the transverse plane might involve the adductor complex, but the adductors might not be the cause of compensation. The cause could involve another imbalance someplace elsewhere in the chain. Remember, tightness and weakness work together. If one joint has altered kinematics, this will affect the whole chain. Therefore, one might see the compensation for increased femoral internal rotation in the transverse plane, but again the cause would not necessarily be the adductor complex being lengthened or shortened. A complete kinetic chain assessment would have to be done to find the root of the compensation.

from National Academy of Sports Medicine

Structures surrounding right hip-joint. (Adductor muscles visible at upper right.)
Gray’s subject #128 473
Origin pubis
Insertion femur, tibia
Nerve obturator nerve
ctions adduction of hip
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