The Hip adductors allow us to put our legs together. Have you seen those big-weird machine in the gym that seems to be inspired in some kind of gynecologist’s examination device? Well, those monsters are the sort of equipment that still litters fitness clubs worldwide. Still, many people ignore the fact that the adductors muscle group (inner side of the legs) has been designed to assist us during most fundamental movements such as squats and hip hinge (deadlifts), particularly during the eccentric part of the movement (when descending). So, the natural function of the Adductors is more similar to the action of a rubber band that allows to flex hips and knees without collapsing, which is verydifferent to the machine that we describe above, which it just can become freaky if we make eye contact while somebody is using it :)
I mentioned that because it is impossible to describe proper abduction if we don’t get clear what adduction is about. So, “Abduction” is the opposite to “Adduction”. The Hip abductors allow us to move the leg sideways. Think about how often you need to do that: From simply walking, to getting off a car, to practicing most field sports, etc.
Anyway, getting back to the “Crab Walking” (mentioned in my last post, "Pain Free, Happy Knees"), it is a great drill to activate the main abductors, gluteus Medius and Tensor Fasciae latae (TFL). If these muscle don't "switch on" sufficiently, it becomes evident a lack of strength where it's difficult to keep the hip levelled, a deficiency that can be detrimental for the lumbar region (low back) as the Quadratus Lumborum (or QL) has to contract or activate -more than necessary- to prevent the opposite hip from dropping down, instead of dedicate its “time” to contribute in the stability of the lumbar spine in conjunction with other spine extensors muscles..
Also, if the hip abductors don’t fire-up well enough, it can affect the stability of the knee. Why? It can be the result of the issue described above, or poor ankle mobility, or even inadequate foot gear, just to mention a bunch of possible causes. What those issues have in common is that all of them provoke inner tracking of the knee, which is the unconscious reaction to compensate issues in the neighbourhood (hip or ankle joint, or both). So, in conclusion, the knee has been designed to be stable, while hips and ankle joints are mean to have sufficient mobility. If they don’t have such mobility, the knees must generate the mobility somehow to compensate dysfunction (s) in other areas. For instance, think about a bunch pf young girls playing basketball. Many of them jump and then, as they land, their knees bend inwards like Bambi's. Such phenomenon is called "Valgus Collapse", which is highly associated with weaknesses in the gluteus medium and the inner bottom of the quadriceps or thighs, which it is the portion just above the knee called Vastus Medialis Obliquos (aka VMO). In short, strengthening both gluteus medium and VMO is "a must" when looking for knee stability. It doesn't prevent 100% all potential issues but it decreases the chances of getting knee pain.
Again, functionality doesn’t have to be a beauty contest, as long as it provides efficiency and keep us away from injury. For instance, if you knee hurst, go to see an specialist rather than guessing for solutions. If you are ready to improve your motion patters, enhance your endurance and become stronger don't wait any longer and book a training session with a proficient coach. Anyway, If you found useful this post, check out our upcoming workshop "Pain Free, Happy Knee!", where we'll illustrating more examples, explaining training variations according to personal profiles and take question from the participants. For more details, see the "Upcoming Events" in the QTX website.
Finally, please leave your questions or constructive feedback in the "comments" space below. Thanks for reading. Will