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Groin Strain – Adductor Strain

What is an Adductor Strain?

adductor strain

Adductor Muscle Group

There a FIVE muscles in the Adductor Group
1 – Pectineus
2 – Adductor Longus
3 – Gracilis
4 – Adductor Magnus
5 – Adductor Brevis muscle is deeper and therefore hidden in this diagram.

These muscles are all attached at the top to the Pelvis and below four of them to the Femur (Thigh Bone) with Gracilis attached to the Tibia on the inside of the knee.
With these attachments the Adductor Group help to control movements of the thigh away from the mid-line and also help to stabilise the hip and leg in one-legged standing or running.

Adductor Strain

Adductor Strain

An Adductor Strain is damage to one of the Adductor Muscle Group.
The most commonly damged muscles are the

  • Adductor Longus – No. 2 in the diagram
  • Gracilis – No. 3
  • Vertical Fibres of Adductor Magnus – No.4

The large fan shaped part of Adductor Magnus along with Pectineus and Adductor Brevis are ‘greyed out’ in the diagram for emphasis.
The Gracilis and Adductor Longus are both attached to the front of the Pubis and lie very superficially just below the skin.
The vertical fibres of Adductor Magnus are attached to the Ischial Tuberosity towards the back of the pelvis (where the Hamstrings originate).
The Adductor Magnus lies much deeper and is more difficult to feel.

Adductor Strains are injuries to the Adductor muscles – I will deal with injuries to the Adductor Tendons in a separate post.

A strain to a muscle can be considered as Grades 1 to 3

GRADE ONE STRAIN – is damage to a few of the small fibres only – less than 5%
GRADE TWO STRAIN – is damage to many more fibres but there is not a complete tear of the muscle
GRADE THREE STRAIN – is a complete rupture of the muscle



Adductor Strain Causes

As explained above these muscles help to stabilise the hip and thigh when you are running.
That means that at every step you take these muscles are subjected to forces in several planes at once.
Front to Back or Flexion / Extension in the Sagittal plane (Red)
Side to Side or Abduction / Adduction in the Coronal plane (Blue)
Rotations – Medial or Lateral in the Transverse plane (Green)
AND most Importantly – ANY COMBINATION of these!!


Overuse Adductor Strain

The Adductors are actively controlling Abduction and Lateral Rotation forces acting on the thigh.
This can happen up to 80-90 times on each leg per minute. Strenuous training, running or playing can put significant strain on the Adductors.
If the recovery between workouts does not allow adequate repair, fibres in the Adductor muscles may break down and become injured.
So you can see why overuse is a common cause of Adductor Strain.

Poor Warm-Up

A good warm-up serves many purposes. It increases blood flow through the muscles, increases body temperature, increases flexibility and most importantly prepares the nervous system to control the muscles in an optimal way. If the warm-up is poor especially before strenuous activities, then the adductor muscles are not sufficiently ‘switched on’ or loose enough to cope with the sudden increase in stresses. This inevitably leads to sub-optimal use of the muscles and increased strain leading to injury.

Sudden, Unexpected Strain

Sudden change in speed, stretching the leg out for the ball or in a tackle, landing awkwardly from a jump, sprinting, sudden change in direction or getting knocked off balance while running quickly can all cause a sudden or unexpected stress to the
Adductor muscles. This greater than expected forces can cause injury to the Adductors.

Outside Forces Acting on the Adductors

Unexpected contact with an opponent in the tackle situation in football or any other ball sport, catching your foot in a divot, slipping on the surface while changing direction or hitting an object with the leg eg goalpost or ski gate. Any of these type of external forces when applied to the leg and pulling it away from the mid-line will cause a sharp and possibly injurious strain to the Adductors.


See Next Article Adductor Strain – Signs and Symptoms

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