The neglected Adductors and the Anterior Oblique Sling

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

The adductors are often the last muscle group to be thought about. They have such a crucial role in many sports, and if not assessed, can break down. You’ve all heard of footballer’s groin strains, which is the sport where the majority of injuries occur. But the adductors are a fundamental component of many sports, and in particular the anterior oblique sling. For sports that involve throwing and swinging, if the adductors are not fully functional, a great amount of force and control can be lost through the chain. To be honest, the anterior oblique sling is important for everyone, and pretty much every ‘functional’ sport.


The anterior oblique sling consists of the external and internal obliques, the opposite side adductor muscle, and the connecting adductor abdominal fascia. Anatomy slings aren’t comprised by only one type of tissue; they are comprised of muscles, fascia and ligaments all working together to create stability and mobility (Vleeming et al 1993). Is critical to understand how they connect and function together.

A muscle contraction produces a force that spreads beyond the origin and insertion of the active muscle. These forces are transmitted through structures within an anatomical sling, allowing forces to be produced quite distant from the origin of the initial muscle contraction; this can be referred to as a force vector. The muscles depicted within a myofascial sling are connected via facia to produce these force vectors that assist in the transfer of load within the pelvis and lumbar spine. These muscles within a myofascial sling may overlap and interconnect with other slings depending on the change in force vectors needed for a competent dynamic movement. When the force vectors are balanced, they provide optimal alignment of the bones and joints throughout dynamic movement. In contrast, imbalanced force vectors resulting from altered tension in the myofascial slings, can create malalignment and potentially contribute to loss of stability during static or dynamic tasks.

The demands on the AOS are great in multi-directional sports such as tennis, football, American football, basketball, rugby and hockey. In such sporting environments, the AOS must not only contribute to accelerating the body, but also to rotating and decelerating it during the change of direction. Accelerating, decelerating and changing directions are all activities that result in immediate pain in the presence of both abdominal and groin strains or tears, which strongly suggests a link within the AOS and its function.

The Anterior Oblique Sling


Injuries are very common around the adductors (groin), especially in the sports we have discussed above. Risk of injury increases with a failure to warm up, stretch or be properly conditioned.

Types of groin injuries can be:

· Adductor strain

· Avulsion fracture

· Stress fractures of the femoral bone or pubis ramus

· Osteitis ramus

· Inguinal hernia

· Sports hernia


Sports that demand a lot of force and power from the adductors, can become very tight and create dysfunction along the sling. Ensuring that the necessary range of motion is available at this muscle will enable the sling to work efficiently.

Releasing them is simple and should become a vital part of your warm up if you participate in sport.

To release the adductors, place the vm-ball on the floor and get into the position shown in the set of photos below. It will feel a little awkward at first, and you’ll have to play around with the position and movement. Once you have the ball in the right place, it’s time to apply pressure onto the adductors and start working on the tight spots. As you can see from the previous photo of the adductors, it’s a large muscle so make sure you keep adjusting yourself so that you can hit the whole area. Repeat on both sides and make sure to follow the release work with the stretches. It’s vital that now you have created a better range of motion, you can then stretch the muscle in its new range of motion.


Once you have done the release work on the muscle, it’s now time to stretch and increase the range of motion.

90/90 hip rotations – Start by sitting on the floor with your hips and knees at 90 degrees (as shown in photo). Slowly bend your body forward over your leg, maintaining a nice straight/neutral spine. You should feel a nice stretch in the back of the hip you are bending over. From there, come back up to the starting position, and rotate all the way round to the other side, trying to keep the feet in relatively the same place. Repeat the stretch on that side, again trying to maintain a nice straight/neutral spine. Repeat both sides 10-15 times, and the move between each stretch should become more fluid and free.

Adductor hip rocks – Start by kneeling on one knee and extending the other leg out straight to the side (as shown in photo). Rock back and forth on the kneeling leg, touching your bum to your heel. Make sure that you focus on keeping the extended foot planted, push the little toes into the ground. Once you have completed 10-15 reps of the rocking, bring your arm underneath your body and reach through, you should feel a bigger stretch going through your adductors. Once you have reached through, bring the arm out and reach up to the ceiling, repeat this movement 10-15 times on each side.

These simple and easy exercises will make a huge difference to your movement and help keep injuries away. Having new range of motion will enable the muscle to use its full force when applied. Keeping this set of muscles flexible is a hidden gem when trying to find an extra way of improving, the majority of the population will forget them.

Don’t neglect the adductors, they need attention like the rest of your body. ADD THE ADDuctors to your programme.

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