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Pulling your legs together works your adductors.
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Your adductors -- also known as your inner thigh or groin muscles -- help stabilize your hips. They fire up to pull your leg toward your body's midline when you balance on one leg, jump, kick or pivot. The relationship between adductor strength and risk of groin injury is unclear, but organizations such as the American Physical Therapy Association recommend beefing up your adductors to prevent groin injury. Whether you're an exercise newbie or a fitness guru, working in a supine position lets you work your adductors without worrying about balance or upper-body alignment.
One option for working the adductors involves lying on your back with your legs in a straddle position. As a beginner, push your buttocks up against a wall and extend your legs toward the ceiling. Take two counts to open your legs into a 45-degree straddle position. Exhale, contract your inner thighs and draw your legs together, taking a full four counts. Repeat eight to 12 times for a total of one to three sets. For an intermediate variation, move into the center of the room and work without support from the wall, pressing your hands firmly against your inner thighs as you close your legs. Notch it up still more by wearing ankle weights, increasing the speed or range of motion or by adding an abdominal crunch, reaching your arms through your legs every time they open.
Supine Ball Squeezes
Work your adductors isometrically with ball squeezes. At the beginner level, lie on your back with your knees bent toward the ceiling. Place a small ball, cushion or rolled-up towel between your thighs, near your knees. Squeeze the ball firmly with your legs and hold the position for three to five seconds. Relax briefly and repeat 10 to 15 times times. As your strength improves, try an intermediate variation of the exercise. Place the ball between your thighs and raise your hips off the floor into a glute bridge. When your body forms a continuous line from your knees through your hips to your shoulders, hold the position and do your ball squeezes. Bump it up to the advanced level by working on one leg. Move into a two-legged glute bridge with the ball between your legs. Carefully shift your weight over one foot and extend the other leg while maintaining your grip on the ball.
For a beginner's bent-leg adduction, lie flat with the soles of your feet on the floor and your knees bent toward the ceiling. Keeping your hips level, take two counts to lower your right knee toward the floor. Tensing your inner thigh muscles, draw your right knee and leg back to the start position. Repeat eight to 12 times for up to three sets before switching to your left leg. Take the exercise up a notch by pressing downward on your inner thigh with your right hand as you adduct the leg. For an advanced version, loop one end of a resistance band around your working thigh and the other end around the leg of a table. Tie the ends of the band together. As you adduct the bent leg, you'll work against the band's resistance.
Reminders and Considerations
Don't launch into your adductor workout without warming up first. Take a brisk walk or march in place for five minutes to raise your core body temperature and increase circulation to your hips and thighs. When you break a light sweat, do a dynamic adductor stretch -- such as lateral lunges -- to better prepare your groin for action. After working your adductors, stretch your groin to prevent soreness and preserve flexibility. Lying supine, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together. Let your knees relax toward the floor. When you feel light to moderate tension in your groin, hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Relax briefly and repeat up to four times, pressing down lightly on your thighs to intensify the stretch. If you have injured your groin in the past, speak to your doctor or physical therapist about the advisability of specific groin exercises.