Hip Adduction Exercises

If you are looking to stabilise your hips through exercising your adductors, you may be surprised that increasing the strength and loading in the knee can decrease the loading in the hips. It is this relationship that we will employ in our exercise program by working on strengthening the hips and the knees for the best results.

The Relationship Between The Hips and Knees

Hip Adduction Exercises

While you would not want to make this a permanent solution as you can weaken the hips by not exercising them it is a good idea to increase the strength in both areas so that you are creating a stronger structure to support the hips.

A study on the Effects of integrating hip movements into bridge exercises on electromyographic activities of selected trunk muscles in healthy individuals showed that:

Hip Adduction Exercises

“A focused hip muscle strengthening program favorably altered both hip and knee joint moments in subjects” this positively affected the “postural adaptations at the trunk and pelvis during gait (walking). This initial work suggests that focused muscle strengthening may be a promising intervention for reducing medical compartment loading patterns.”

If increasing the strength in the knee is good enough for medical prescriptions, then it is something that we can incorporate into our hip strengthening adduction exercises.

Hip Exercises and Pelvic Floor Strengthening Debunked

Hip Adduction Exercises

How many times have you been in an aerobic class doing a static movement with your hips and you have been told that it is helping your pelvic floor muscles? I know I have heard it several times especially in Pilates.

Research shows that infact this is not correct. The research paper on the Effect of combined actions of hip adduction/abduction on the force generation and maintenance of pelvic floor muscles in healthy women concludes that:

Isometric hip adduction exercises or abduction exercises combined with pelvic floor movements (PFM) contraction did not increase the pelvic floor muscles.

“The use of hip adduction or abduction in PFM training and treatments are NOT justified for improving PFM strength and endurance.”

MUSCLES OF THE HIPS

Hip Adduction Exercises

The muscles of the hip are small and they contribute to flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and the lateral rotation of the hip.

The piriformis is one of the major muscles that support the head of the femur. It is also one of the muscles that can give what might feel like gluteal pain coming from the hip joint. That is why tight glutes can be mistaken for a tight piriformis.

The muscles that support the hip joints whether they are in motion or static are as follows:

Flexion

Hip Adduction Exercises

We are using flexion in the hips it means we are drawing the leg closer to the body. We use this when we kick, run and walk.

Illiopsoas, retus femoris, tensor fasciae latae, sartorius, adductor brevis, adductor longus & pectineus.

Exension

Hip Adduction Exercises
Dancer exhibits flexion on the front leg and extension on the back leg.

Hip extension is just as it sounds, it is when we extend the hip between the thigh and the front of the hip/pelvis.

Glueteus maximus, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris, & adductor magnus.

Abduction

Hip Adduction Exercises

The hip abductors support the movement of the leg extending away from the body as well as rotation of the leg at the hip joint. We heavily rely on our abductors in everyday movements such as walking. When we are bringing the leg back to center this movement is adduction.

Gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tensor fasciae latae, obturator internus, & piriformis.

Adduction

The movement that brings the legs back to center.

Adductor magnus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, pectineus, gracilis, gluteus maximus, & quadratus femoris.

Lateral Rotation

Hip Adduction Exercises

Lateral rotation of the hip allows the head of the femur to rotate in the hip socket. This would be employed when a ballerina turns her feet out.

Gluteus maximus, obturator internum, gemelli, obturator externus, quadratus femoris, piriformis, saratorius, adductor magnus, adductor brevis, & adductor longus.

Hip Adduction Exercise Routine

Now we know what muscles are involved in supporting the hips we can work on strengthening them.

Seated Hip & Leg Adduction

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • From a seated position.
  • Bring both legs to the side.
  • The top leg bends at the knee and rests just behind the leg.
  • The bottom leg remains straight.
  • Raise the heel towards the sky.

Side-Lying Abduction

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • Lying on the side with the top bent.
  • The bottom leg is straight.
  • Raise the top leg up towards the sky.

Single-Leg Squats

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Extend one leg in front of you so that it is off the floor.
  • Bend the knee and bring your booty towards the floor as if you were sitting in a seat.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Assisted Leg Extensions

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • Using a resistance band around both thighs or ankles depending on your level of resistance needed.
  • Lie on the side with the top bent.
  • The bottom leg is straight.
  • Raise the top leg up towards the sky.

Squats With Ball In Between The Knees

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • Standing with your feet hip width apart.
  • Place a basketball or soccer ball in between your knees.
  • Bring the glutes towards the floor as though you are taking a seat.
  • Rise to a standing position.
  • Repeat.

Standing Side Steps

Hip Adduction Exercises

How To:

  • Using a stair or stepper.
  • Stand so that the stair is beside you.
  • Bring the closest leg to stand on the stair.
  • Extend the free leg upwards towards the sky.
  • To come down bring the extended leg back towards.
  • Step down so that both legs are on the floor.
  • Repeat.

Standing Leg Curls

How To:

  • Standing on your two feet.
  • Bring one heel to the glutes/booty.
  • Bring the same leg back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Alleviating Tension From The Hips

Hip Adduction Exercises

To be in perfect balance we need to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the hips. The aim of stretching the muscles around the hips are to alleviate any tension from the muscles and ligaments pulling on the bone structure. This creates disharmony and decreases functionality and range of motion (ROM).

SUPINE GLUTE PRETZEL STRETCH

How To:

  • Come to a seated position on the floor with bent knees.
  • Lay down with a flat back and ensure your lower back is flat to the mat. We don’t want the hips to be tilting downward.
  • Bring your ankle to meet just below the knee in a right angle position. You want to keep the foot flexed at all times to protect the knee.
  • Bring your hands around the leg with the foot on the floor. In this instance, it is the left leg. Your hands want to reach around until they meet your shins.
  • Draw the shin towards your chest keeping it in the same plane. You should feel a good stretch here.
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch

Here is a front view of the right angle you need to take with your right leg.

supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch

SEATED GLUTE PRETZEL STRETCH

How To:

  • From a seated position bend the knees and draw your feet towards the glutes.
  • Bring one foot onto the opposite knee in a right angle.
  • Ankle should meet the knee.
  • Bring your chest towards the shin.

BEGINNER PRETZEL STRETCH

supine piriformis stretch

How To:

  • From a seated position bring both legs out in front of you.
  • Bring one foot onto the opposite knee in a right angle.
  • The ankle should meet the knee.
  • Fold forward as far as you can. Aiming to meet the shins with your chest.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch

ALTERNATIVES TO THE PRETZEL STRETCH

SHOE LACE POSE

How To:

  • From a seated position.
  • Bring one leg in front of you.
  • Knee in line with the hip.
  • Ankle in line with the opposite hip.
  • Foot remains flexed to prevent the knee from injury.
  • The second leg stacks on top of the lower leg at a right angle.
  • Ankle on top of knee.
  • Knee on top of ankle.
  • To deepen the pose fold your torso forward.
Glute Pretzel Stretch

DEER POSE

How to:

  • Begin in downward-facing dog
  • Bend your left knee and sweep your left shin forward bring it forward keeping it at a right angle so the shins are inline with the front of the mat.  
  • The back leg can remain supple and can simply relax behind you.
  • Lift your chest using your fingertips to bring your torso to an upright position.
  • Press down onto the floor with your hips and tailbone and lift up with your chest.
  • Fold forward and bring your chest towards the mat.

PIGEON POSE

How to:

  • Begin in downward facing dog
  • Bend your left knee and sweep your left shin forward bring it forward in between your hands to become parallel with the mat 
  • Extend your right leg behind you your hips should be squared forward and your right knee should face down onto the floor
  • Lift your chest using your fingertips  to bring your torso to an upright position
  • Press down onto the floor with your hips and tailbone and lift up with your chest
  • Bend your right knee and flex your foot drawing your heel to your buttock
  • Reach back with your right hand Palm facing upward and grasp your toes from the inside of your foot.
  • Support yourself with the fingertips of the left hand. 
  • Lift up through your spine open your chest and hold for 5 breaths.

HOW TO RELEASE THE GLUTES WITH TRIGGER POINT THERAPY

Having a tight glute and piriformis myself I love using trigger point therapy in order to release some tension.

Simply grab a medicine ball and roll over the affected area. Once you find the belly of the muscle where the pain exists place the medicine ball underneath it and hold it there for two minutes.

Once you have worked the body with your medicine ball ensure that you stretch afterward to elongate the muscles.

You can see all of my flexibility training tools here.

Jadore Vanessa

I hope you find stability with my hip adduction exercises!

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Hip Adduction Exercises

References:

Number of repetition after different rest intervals between static stretching and resistance training

H. Dias, GA Paz, M. de F. Maia, T. Leite, R. Simão.

Effect of combined actions of hip adduction/abduction on the force generation and maintenance of pelvic floor muscles in healthy women

Amanda C. Amorium, Licia P. Cacciari, Anice C. Passaro, Simone R. B. Silveira, Cesar F. Amorium, Jefferson F. Loss, Isabel C. N. Sacco)

Electromyographic analysis of exercises proposed for differential activation of medial and lateral quadriceps femoris muscle components. (includes commentary and author response)

Karst, Gregory M. ; Jewett, Paul D. ; Mcconnell, JennyPhysical Therapy, May, 1993, Vol.73(5), p.286(14)

Effects of integrating hip movements into bridge exercises on electromyographic activities of selected trunk muscles in healthy individuals

Park, Hyun – Ju ; Oh, Duck – Won ; Kim, Suhn – YeopManual Therapy, June, 2014, Vol.19(3), p.246(6)

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