Long and Short Adductor Muscles
What are the adductor muscles how can we treat them?
The adductor muscles are called adductor muscles because they add or adduct in. Anatomically, when we think of them, they are going to be attached to the pubic bone, and attach to either the femur or the pes anserine. The latter being our two longer joint adductors.
Our adductor muscles assist us when it comes to moving the leg inwards. When the leg moves toward the body, it uses the longer adductors as the primary movers, and when the knee is in flexion, it uses mostly the shorter ones including brevis, and etcetera.
The adductor muscles play a huge role in hip stability and pelvic control. They need to be treated if we see pain or instability of the ilia, the knee, in general tightness with sitting wide legged or cross legged. Moreover, it is also an indication for treatment if there has been sporting injuries where the pubic bone or soft tissue of the hip, thigh or pelvis is present.
Treating the Adductor Muscles
If you are going to treat someone who has any of the symptoms listed above the best way to do so is by having them lay sideways.
To begin, we should first asses the ability to list the affected leg in both straight and knee bent movements. Why do we do this? It is so we can get an understanding of whether the short or longer adductors (or both) need to be treated. In the video demonstration below we can see that there is more weakness and incorrect lifting when the knee is bent and the longer adductors removed from the assessment. This meant my focus of treatment would be closer to the upper leg (proximal) rather than if she was weak and felt pain with a straight knee.
Steps to Follow
- Start to feel around the inner leg and gently palpate for muscle hypertonicity (muscle feels tight).
- With some lotion or lubricant, place your hands at around a 45 degree angle towards the upper inner thigh and slowly glide along the tissue—starting from just above the knee, towards the pubic bone.
- If you come across any taught bands, you can cross fiber across the belly of the muscle/s using a gentle action. There are loads of nerves housed along the inner thighs so this can be painful if too deep or too quickly frictioned.
- We can also work into the muscle groups palpating for long bands of firm or tight muscles. These normally run along the line of the femur and not across it. To address these restrictions, let us apply a positional release technique. The bands can start anywhere above the knee and soften midway along the femur or in nasty restricted cases all the way up to the pubic attachments.
- Now, making use of both your hands, place each thumb on the area where the tautness begins and push your thumbs towards each other. This is called the positional release technique, which is an excellent way to change the tension between two ends of the muscle fiber. We actually shorten the muscle belly by physically bunching it into the middle. Think about an uncooked sausage and if you apply pressure at each end and direct towards the middle, then that area has less tension.
- Hold the positional release until you can feel a sensation at the tendons where it feels like it’s softening. For about 90 seconds or until you feel that the muscles start to give. It should feel slightly uncomfortable but not dreadful.
- Start to feel around the inner leg once again, and gently palpate for any further restrictions of the muscle. If there is still some tightness, repeat the process.
The video below shows me treating Kristen’s adductor muscles. We can see that in the start of the video she is experiencing hip flexion as well as difficulty when lifting her lower leg. Then after completing all these steps, we can see that she is feeling less tenderness in her adductor muscles and can actually lift her leg more easily in a better range.
Watch the full video instruction below:
Adductor Magnus. (2012). Physiopedia. https://www.physio pedia.com/Adductor_Magnus
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