Using your inner-thigh muscles to squeeze your legs and draw them toward the center line of your body is referred to as hip adduction. These muscles, the adductors, play an important role in daily activities such as sitting, standing or getting in and out of your car. Strong adductors are critical to individuals who play sports such as soccer and tennis. Without strengthening exercises, a muscle imbalance between weak inner-thigh and stronger outer-thigh muscles can develop, which may lead to injuries. To help prevent injuries, perform simple leg-squeezing exercises at home on a regular basis.
The adductors are a group of muscles consisting of three main muscles, the adductor magus, adductor longus and adductor brevis, which run from the pubic bone to the femur. Two smaller muscles, the gracilis and pectineus are also part of the group. The gracilis is a strap-like muscle that runs from the pubic bone to the tibia. The pectineus not only helps with adduction, it also helps to move your thigh toward your body.
Seated Ball Squeeze
Working your adductors can easily be done while seated. Simply sit in a sturdy chair, scoot forward toward the front of the seat, bend your knees to 90 degrees and put your feet flat on the floor. Spread your legs apart and place a 10-inch diameter exercise ball between your knees. With your hands to the outside of each thigh, hold onto the front edge of the seat for support. While sitting up tall, squeeze your knees together as hard as you can, hold the squeeze for a count of five, relax and repeat. Perform two or three sets of 10 squeezes.
Lying Ball Squeeze
Lying ball squeezes are also effective in working your adductors. Lie face up on an exercise mat, bend your legs to 45 degrees and put your feet flat on the mat. Spread your legs and place an exercise ball between your knees and thighs. Rest your arms by your sides and put your palms on the mat for support. Squeeze your thighs together as hard as you can, hold for a count of three, relax and repeat. Perform two or three sets of 10 squeezes. A variation is to hold the ball between your lower legs, extend your legs straight toward the ceiling and squeeze your legs together.
Tips and Considerations
Before performing the leg-squeezing exercises, get the blood flowing to your muscles with a light, aerobic warm-up. After 10 minutes of jogging, brisk walking, cycling or stair climbing, you'll be ready to go. If you don't have an exercise ball for the seated squeeze exercise, a pillow, small beach ball or a large, rolled up bath towel can be used. If you've been inactive for several months or you have other health concerns, get a clearance from you doctor before starting an exercise program.
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