Because they are small, your abductor and adductor muscles of your lower body are easy to overlook. You can spend hours in the gym working your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves and never focus on two of the areas responsible for essential functions like stability and injury prevention. By strengthening your abductor and adductor muscles, however, which are located in your hips and upper thighs, you can improve your athletic performance and achieve a healthier, more active life.
Your abductor and adductor muscles help stabilize your body at one of its most mobile points: your hips. They serve as a connecting point between your upper and lower body and work to move your lower body while also keeping your spine in line. With such a high level of responsibility, your hips need TLC, which includes regular stretching and strength training. By giving them proper attention, you can help them perform their duties and keep you standing -- or walking or running -- tall.
When Problems Arise
If your hip abductors and adductors are weak or imbalanced, it can create a ripple effect that causes issues in your hamstrings, knees, IT band and ankles. Your stronger leg muscles will try to compensate for the weaknesses in your hips by doing more work, and they can wind up overused and injured. With weak hips, you are more likely to experience IT band syndrome, muscle pulls, knee pain and tendonitis.
Building Your Strength
Instead of letting your hips become imbalanced, you can fend off weaknesses and injuries by strengthening your abductors and adductors through a combination of weight-training and stability exercises. Using free weights to add resistance, do three sets of 25 glute bridges. Lie on the floor with your knees bent, holding a set of dumbbells on your hips and lift and lower your pelvis against the weight. Be sure to squeeze your butt while lifting and lowering to protect the low back. Lying leg lifts, wide-leg squats and walking lunges can also be helpful, as are side shuffles with resistance bands. For shuffles, place the resistance band around your ankles, bend your knees slightly and slowly shuffle 10 paces to each side, doing three sets.
Although strengthening your adductors and abductors can help you stay active and healthy, it’s important to stretch them as well. Tight hip and thigh muscles can also lead to injuries and decreased performance, so be sure to carve out time for stretching your hips at least once a day and immediately after a workout. Taking a few minutes to warm up and cool down is also important, so begin your workouts with five minutes of easy cardio, using your stretches as your cooldown. And as with all exercise, be sure to consult with your physician before you begin to ensure your health and safety.
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