The hip adductors are a group of muscles that we don’t pay a lot of attention to.
But when they become stiff or painful, they can begin to affect the way we move, which can cause a decrease in running performance.
Making an effort to stretch and strengthen this group of muscles can help to increase your range of motion and improve your running.
Here are 4 hip adductor exercises for runners that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
You may be surprised at how much your performance improves when you start to strengthen these muscles!
What Are Hip Adductors?
Your hip adductors are a group of five muscles located in your inner thigh that serve a number of vital purposes.
This group of muscles play a vital role in stabilizing the rotational movement of your knee, helping to bring the hip and pelvic muscles towards the midline of your body.
They also play an important part in hip flexion and extension, as well as providing stability for your lower back, hips, and knees to help to prevent injury.
But these five muscles also cross over your pubic bone and play an important part in stabilizing your core.
These five muscles are also commonly referred to as the groin muscles, as they attach the pelvis to the femur.
Together, these muscles all work to help stabilize and balance your body. It’s beneficial for runners to have strong adductors as it will help prevent knee injuries!
The Adductors’ Role in Running
Your adductors all work together constantly during your running stride and sometimes they have to work harder to position your femur. This can leave you feeling tight after your run.
The adductors slow your leg down as your foot comes into contact with the ground and stabilize your pelvis as you move over your foot.
These groin muscles also work to create the forwards and backwards motion of your swing leg that generates power to propel you forwards.
Why Runners Should Strengthen Their Adductors
Your adductor muscles are able to generate incredible power and strong adductors can improve running efficiency!
By strengthening your adductors, you’ll be reducing your risk of knee injuries, hip pain, and lower back pain. You’ll also find that your hip extension improves and that you generate more rotational power.
Weak adductors can lead to overuse injuries of other muscle groups, as they have to work harder to balance and stabilize your body as you run.
This can leave you sidelined with injuries that can take 4 to 8 weeks to heal, depending on your injury.
Keeping your adductors strong is key to improving your running form, reducing your risk of injury, and increasing your running speed.
Exercises to Strengthen Adductors
The following exercises can help you to strengthen your adductors so that they can better support and stabilize your body.
1. Common Lunge Matrix
Lunges target the legs individually and help to strengthen and improve muscle imbalances.
This exercise will have you perform a series of lunges in different directions. You can choose to either do the lunges alternately on each leg or do all the reps on one leg and then move on to the other leg.
To begin, do 8 lunges on each leg. As you develop more strength, you can increase to 10 to 15 lunges on each leg.
To make the exercises more challenging, you can hold either a kettlebell or a dumbbell as you lunge. This will add more resistance to the exercise and make the adductors work a bit harder.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
Take a step forward with your right leg. Your foot should land flat on the floor in front of you and remain flat.
Keep your back straight, engage your core, and start to lower yourself down towards the floor. Bend both knees until both are bent at a 90-degree angle. The heel of your left foot will be raised off the floor.
Pause when you reach the bottom of the lunge, for 10 to 20 seconds. Then forcefully push off from your right leg and return to the start position.
Make sure to keep your core engaged and your back straight throughout the movement, including when you return to the start position.
Repeat the movement on your alternate leg.
Same-Side Lateral Lunge
Start with your feet hip-width apart and raise your hands so that they’re in front of your chest.
Then, take a wide step with your right leg to the side of you. Keep both feet flat on the floor with your toes pointed straight forward.
Bend your right knee as you step outwards, then drop your hips down and to the back while you keep your left leg straight.
You should feel a stretch in the groin on the left leg. Make sure your right knee is tracking over your right foot throughout the whole motion.
Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds and then forcefully push off your right heel to get yourself back to the starting position.
Perform one set of side lunges on your right leg and then switch to your left leg.
Same-Side Rotational Lunge
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and then sink into a side lunge.
Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Then pivot on your feet to your right side or the leg that you started the side lunge with. You will now be facing the side.
Keep the back leg as straight as possible and hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds. To help you keep your balance, you can raise your arms above your head while holding the pose.
Then lower your arms and pivot on your feet back to the side lunge position, where you can return to the start position.
2. Loaded Groin Glide
Start by kneeling on the ground on both knees. You’ll need to hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest.
Keeping your left knee on the ground, lift your right foot and place it on the ground out to your right side, with your toes pointing away from you.
Lean—or glide—to your right-hand side in a slow, controlled way, keeping your back straight. You should feel the stretch in the adductors on your opposite leg.
Pause briefly at the end of your range of motion and then return to your starting position.
Repeat this for 6 to 10 reps on the leg before switching to the left leg.
You can increase the tension in the muscles by holding the weights further away from you. But you will need to make sure to engage your core and keep your form correct.
3. Copenhagen Side Plank
For this exercise, you’ll need a foam mat and a weight bench.
Lie on your right side on the foam mat, and then prop yourself up on your right forearm (like you would to do a side plank). Make sure to keep your elbow under your shoulder with your forearm pointing away from you.
Place your left foot on the bench, with the inside of your foot resting on the surface of the bench.
Then, lift your body up off the floor so that your forearm on the floor and your foot on the bench are the only points of contact.
Lift your right leg up towards your belly button, bending at the knee so that it’s not in contact with the ground.
Hold this position for as long as you can. As you become stronger, you can extend your time to 1 minute on each leg.
Return to the starting position and then switch sides so that you’re supported on your left side, with your right foot on top of the bench.
If you find this version of the exercise a little hard to do, then try placing your knee on the surface of the bench instead of your foot. As you gain strength, you can then place your foot on the bench.
Make sure that you keep your body in a straight line when doing the side plank. Your hips shouldn’t sag, touch the floor, and you shouldn’t over-extend either.
If you find this exercise easy to do, then try keeping the supporting arm fully extended so you’re leaning on the palm of your hand instead of your forearm.
You can also lift your resting arm straight up in the air for better balance. When you do this, it should look like your body is making a T-shape.
4. Standing Rubber Band Adduction
You’ll need a rubber resistance band for this exercise. In the beginning, use a lighter resistance band and increase the resistance as needed.
Anchor the resistance band with a door anchor, or you can wrap one end around a sturdy table leg.
Wrap the other end of the resistance band around the ankle of your right leg. Move away from the anchor point until you’re about 3 to 4 feet away.
Keep your back straight and engage your core. Position your right leg so that it’s at a 45-degree angle from the anchor point.
Then pull your right leg away from the anchor point—against the resistance until your legs are together—slowly returning back to the starting position.
Make sure to keep your leg straight throughout the range of motion.
Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times on each leg.