This is a two parter blog on how to care for and train the adductors (inner thigh, groin muscles... take you pick of their name). We'll talk about keeping adductors healthy and happy (and hopefully prevent groin pulls/strains, I'm looking at you soccer players...) today and then in the next installment, we'll talk about how to train the adductors (ladies (and guys, I've seen a few!), get off the baby-maker machines...) Part 2 is here.
First, a little anatomy lesson just so you know what the adductors look like:
So these are the major players: Adductor magnus, add. longus, add. brevis, pectineus and gracilis. (there's also a muscle called the satoris, it usually works in conjunction with the gracilis but it's attached to front angle of the hip bone (instead of the pubis bone like the gracilis) and it helps flex the hip and externally rotate the femur: like when you sit and cross your ankle over your knee.)
All of them adduct the femur (brining it closer to the body) but that's not their only function! The adductor magnus helps extend the hip (important in understanding groin strains) along with the hamstrings and glutes. The adductor brevis and pectineus assist in breaking hip flexion (like a little extra umph in flexing the hip). Adductors are the sidekicks of the big guys: quads, glutes and hamstrings.
The adductors are also 1/3 of Team Frontal Plane Stabilization: keeping hips and femurs stable everywhere!
In case you were wondering, as I'm sure you are, the other two players are the glutes (especially glute med) and the opposite side quadratus lumborum. So, for example, if you were to lunge forward, the adductors help prevent your hips from shifting up/down and the knee from collapsing inwards.
Ok, with all the awesome-at-multi-tasking the adductor complex is, it's a area that gets really nasty. It gets clogged with knots and fibrotic tissue so it needs a healthy dose of SMR. While you can use a foam roller on the floor, it's not ideal. You can't apply a whole lot of pressure (due to the angle) and your essentially nose-on-the-floor and again, not very comfortable.
I recommend elevating your leg on a table or a bench to eliminate this issue. You can use a foam roller but I've found that medecine balls work wonders on the nasty gunk up in your adductor trunk. You can apply force over a smaller area, thus making it more effective, and it's easier to pinpoint super-nasty areas. See video below:
Notice how I go along the fibers (from knee to hip direction) as well as across the fibers (front to back). And when you find a angry bit, hang on it for about ten seconds then continue the delightful process of that we know of as SMR.
After that, drills like adductor rock backs, Cressy has a good video of standing rock backs, and static side lunges to bring the rolled-out fibers back to a desirable length.
Now, go forth, roll your adductors and be prepared on Friday to learn some ways to train the Sidekicks of the Lower Body.