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  • Writer's pictureLauren Burnham

Adductor Overload

Adductor Overload

There are few things in life that will slow you down like a groin injury.  Whether it’s because of injury you incurred playing a sport or as a result of overtraining/improper form, the pain of a strained groin will make walking and running difficult.  If you have a pulled groin – or adductor strain and want to get better as quickly as possible, keep reading to learn the do’s and don’ts that will help you heal fast!

The Anatomy of Your Adductor Muscles

The hip adductors comprise a group of five muscles that form the bulk of the inner thigh.  Anatomically, the main function of the adductors is to bring the thighs together, however, as you’ll discover in a sec, there’s more to them than that.

The various heads of the hip adductors are known as Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longis and Adductor Magnus. There are also two lesser known deep muscles that have a similar line of action as the main adductor group that most people are unaware of: Gracilis and Pectineus.

What are the Short and Long Adductors?

The adductor muscle group runs along the inside of the thigh, with the Pectineus, Adductor Brevis and Adductor Longus (known as the short adductor muscles) going from the pubic bone to your mid-thigh. The Gracilis and Adductor Magnus stretch from the pelvis to your inner knee and are called the long adductors.

The Adductors At Work in Real Life

Looking at the biomechanics of the adductors you would think that all they are responsible for is hip adduction i.e. bringing your legs closer together when they’re spread out wide like in a straddle position. And while they perform this action, it isn’t a movement that’s often used in everyday life. Think about it – when was the last time you had to adduct your hip, other than for some exercise you’ve done in the gym? The main job of the adductors is to stabilize your hips during walking – without proper adductor function, you would fall over.

Using Your Adductors for Sports

Groin strains are a common problem among the physically active population (but especially so in competitive sports).  The sports that have the highest risk of causing a strained groin are football, soccer, hockey, basketball and tennis.  Each of these sports is adductor intensive, involving frequent moves side to side and making sudden changes in direction while sprinting at full speed.  In the gym the most common exercise that results in groin strains is the Lunge and all its variants.  So if you’ve got an adductor strain, definitely avoid lunges until it’s healed up (but we’ll get to all the do’s and dont's in a second).

Symptoms of a Strained Groin

You already know the symptoms – tenderness in the muscles somewhere along the middle of the thigh.

Like all muscle strains, they’re classified according to severity:

  • Grade 1 - minor tear that causes discomfort; you can still walk without much pain

  • Grade 2 - much more painful; you will likely see bruising and swelling

  • Grade 3 - incredibly painful; you've suffered a complete (or close to complete) rupture

Common Causes

Often a strained groin will be the result of failing to warm-up or stretch properly before running or playing a sport that involves sprinting. If you find groin strains are a common occurrence, you need to get to the root cause and fix the overall function of your hips including addressing muscular imbalances, mobility deficiencies, and muscles that don’t activate properly.  For example, if your hamstrings are weak or aren’t firing properly, the adductors will try to make up for them and because of this, they’ll be called upon for movements that they’re bio-mechanically inefficient for. When you go to sprint where the adductors are needed to be at peak performance, they’re already sore or fatigued and a strain can result.


  • Don’t perform static stretches for your strained groin! Static stretches will stress out already damaged tissue, which will cause further damage.

  • Avoid performing any movements that hurt i.e. forget about “no pain no gain,” it’s more like when you say “doctor it hurts when I do that, what should I do?” and the doctor tells you “don’t do that.”

  • Don’t take pain killers to the point you can’t feel anything – this will numb you to the pain and prevent you from realizing when a movement is irritating your injury

  • Don’t rush your return to regular activities/training – it’s better to overestimate the time you need and be pleasantly surprised than underestimate and be disappointed


Ice, Compress, Elevate within first 24 hours; 15 minutes throughout day

After that:

  • Therapeutic Massage

  • Ice if you trigger the pain somehow or if throbbing and swelling still present

  • Pain-free movement, starting with passive movement if necessary

  • Apply gentle heat once throbbing and swelling subside and you’re dealing with more stiffness and want to speed healing

  • Use pain killers if absolutely necessary but the minimal amount and for as short a time as possible – they are your neuromuscular alarm alerting you to damaging movements that you shouldn’t do

  • Learn how to build your hips up to be stronger, quicker and more intelligent than ever before

There are few injuries that cause more problems in every aspect of your day like a strained groin.  You can’t realize just how much these muscles are used until you injure them.  Follow these recommendations to keep from making it worse, while speeding your recuperation and getting back into the swing of things.

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