Adduction and the Adductor Muscles

Man stretching the adductor muscles.

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Adduction refers to any motion that pulls parts or structures of the body toward the center of the body. The median point of the body is referred to as the midline, which divides the body into even left and right sections. Rather than extending your arms or legs, pinning them close to your side would be an example of adduction as it brings them in towards the midline.

Fingers and Toes

In the specific case of the toes and fingers, adduction refers to bringing the digits together toward the center of the hand or foot. An example of adduction would be squeezing the fingers in towards the middle fingers from a spread-out position.

Groin Muscles in the Legs

The adductors are fan-like muscles in the upper thigh that pull the legs together when they contract. They also help stabilize the hip joint. The adductors attach from the pelvis to the femur (thigh bone).

In a human, the adductors muscles found in the thigh area of the leg are commonly referred to as groin muscles.

The groin muscles include: include the adductor Magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, pectineus, and gracilis. They pull the legs together when they contract. They also help stabilize the hip joint. The adductors attach from the pelvis to the femur (thigh bone).

Stretching these hip adductors can be done by stretches that spread your legs apart, lengthening these muscles. These can be done seated, as with a butterfly stretch, standing, as with a standing groin stretch, or lying down.

The Opposite Is Abduction

Abduction is the opposite of adduction. These two terms can be easy to confuse as they differ by only one letter. Abduct is a kinesiology term that means to move away from the midline or median of the body or from an adjacent part or limb. Think of abduct as in "to take away."

The action of abduction is achieved by an abductor muscle in the body. There are several abductor muscles in the body, including in the legs, hands, and feet. When it comes to the fingers and toes of the body, abduction refers to the spreading of the digits away from the center of the foot or hand.

Spreading out the arms or legs to the side of the body, and away from the center of the body, is an example of abduction.

Adduction, which means to move closer to the median plane of the body, is the opposite of abduction.

The abductor muscles of the leg are often referred to as the hip abductors and are comprised of the gluteus medius muscle (the primary abductor) and the gluteus minimus. The synergist muscles include the psoas, piriformis, tensor fascia latae (TFL), sartorius, quadratus lumborum, and rectus femoris.

The abductors move the legs away from the midline of the body when they contract. They also help rotate the thigh in the hip socket and help to stabilize the hip joint. The abductors attach from the pelvis to the femur (thigh bone).

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Potter PA, Perry AG, et al. Fundamentals of Nursing, 9th Edition. Mosby. 2017.

  2. Norris CM. The Complete Guide To Stretching (Fourth Edition). Bloomsbury Sport. 2015.

  3. American Council on Exercise. Muscles that move the leg. February 2017.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.