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Your hip adductors make up your inner thighs. Prolonged sitting or standing in any position can make them feel very tight and stiff, which can be a bit painful when you stretch your legs out to your sides. Since everyone has a different and goals, such as improving soccer skills or recovering from a hip injury, the best stretching method for your hip adductors can vary among individuals.
Hip adductors stretch from the lower part of the pelvic bone to the posterior part of the thigh bone and the inner part of the knee. Although most textbooks state that the adductors move the leg toward the midline of your body -- called adduction -- they function as brakes, controlling the deceleration rate when you kick or run, according to fitness professional Lisa Bonang. For example, when you kick a soccer ball across your body, your adductors decelerate the speed of the swinging leg that is kicking the ball. If the adductors fail to decelerate properly, you can easily pull your groin. Because of it's function, the best way to stretch your adductors is based on the movement your preparing for, not just anatomy.
Different Stretches, Different Results
Static stretching, which is holding a muscle stretch for 20 to 30 seconds in one position, decreases neural stimulation to your muscles and enhances relaxation. Therefore, this type of stretching should be performed after a workout. The seated butterfly groin stretch is an example of a static stretch. Dynamic stretching, however, involves repetitively moving your adductors and adjacent hip and leg muscles within their full range of motion in different directions. This will increase your neural stimulation to your muscles, mentally and physically preparing you for the upcoming sport or activity. Sample stretches include leg swings and clockwork lunges. Although static stretching can decrease athletic performance and doesn't reduce your risk of injury, it can be beneficial for older and active adults who may need a longer stretching time, according to a 2012 review published in "International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy."
Sometimes stretching isn't enough to alleviate chronic hip adductor tightness. Giving yourself a massage with a foam roller can decrease the tenderness and the tightness sensation. By placing compressive force upon the tenderness along the adductors, foam rolling stimulates a sensory receptor called the Golgi tendon organ in the muscle tendons that signals the muscle fibers to relax, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine. After you roll, perform dynamic stretches to increase blood flow and tissue elasticity.
Whether you're using static or dynamic stretching, your body's position and movement patterns can affect whether the stretch is beneficial or not. For example, track athletes and gymnasts may gain greater benefits in stretching their adductors in a standing position than stretching on the floor. This is based on the SAID principle -- specific adaptation to imposed demands -- which states that your body gets better and adapts to specifically what you train it to do. If you want to get better at certain activities, train in the position and movement patterns that your activity or sport demands, according to physical therapist and professional breakdancer Tony Ingram.