What are the abductor and adductor muscles?

The terms "abductor" and "adductor" are frequently used to refer to the abductor and adductor muscles of the hip, but in reality, these terms generally define Two types of muscles according to the movement they perform: abductors perform abduction movements and the adductors perform adduction movements. These are the lateral movements of the limbs of the body towards and away from the sagittal plane or midline of the body.

Although it is very common to use adductor Y adductiondue to similarity with the words in English, in Spanish the correct terms are adductor Y adduction.

abduction and adduction

Abduction and adduction are two opposite movements that take place in the frontal plane. The frontal plane is the plane that divides the human body into the anterior half (front, part of the chest) and the posterior half (behind, part of the back). Movements in this plane are commonly described as movements sides:

  • Abduction is the movement that, within the frontal plane, moves a part of the body away from the midline of the body or sagittal plane.
  • Adduction is the movement that, within the frontal plane, brings a part of the body closer to the sagittal plane.

The abductor and adductor muscles are therefore antagonist muscleswell perform opposite movements. For example, raising the leg laterally by moving the foot away from the body would be an abduction movement performed by the abductor muscles. The opposite movement would be an adduction and the muscles involved would be adductor muscles. In some cases, by convention, we speak of side bending and not abduction/adduction. For example, lateral flexion of the neck.

The hip abductors and adductors

The hip abductor and adductor muscles are probably the most well-known abductor and adductor muscles, especially in the fitness world. The hip abductors are the muscles that perform the movement of lateral leg raising or leg separation. The adductors would be the antagonist muscles, that is, those that close the legs and bring the thigh closer to the midline of the body.

The hip abductors, also called lower limb abductors, are located on the outside of the thigh and buttocks. The most important are the gluteus mediusthe gluteus minimus and the piriformis muscle. The hip adductors are located on the inside of the thigh and the most important are the adductor magnus, the adductor median and the pectineus muscle.

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