How footballer players injure their adductors
If you’ve ever watched a football team warm up before a match, you’ll often see them completing agility drills to prepare their muscles for the dynamic and powerful demands of their game. You’ll also know that despite the dedication to preparing their bodies for peak physical condition, injuries still often occur to football players. From concussions, to hamstring tears, ACL tears, to cauliflower ears, and so on, footballers pay their dues to perform at a high level in a demanding and high-contact sport. One (often overlooked) injury that frequently occurs in ball sports is an adductor tear.
Despite being overlooked, our adductors, which are muscles that make up the inside of our thighs, play a massive role in football and other ball sports. Their primary action is adduction, which means that they bring your leg back to its midline from the hip.
Why adductors are important muscles to strengthen for sports
The reason adductors are so important in ball sports is due to the high amounts of stepping and cutting, change of direction, and acceleration and deceleration. The adductors are also used in straight line running and provide a lot of stability to the hips when we are in a single leg stance position. Unfortunately, they are commonly neglected in traditional strength training and preventative training, and often lead to injuries in the early part of the season.
Common approaches to treatment
The common approach to treat an adductor strain is to rest and stretch, usually performed either sitting down with heels together, or using a side lunge stance. While this may provide some temporary relief, to create long term change and prevent adductor injuries from reoccurring, we need to strengthen our adductors!
Mid- to late-stage adductor rehabilitation
Strengthening our adductors can be quite difficult, but exercises such as adductor kicks with a theraband, bridges while squeezing a ball between your knees, and adductor slides, are a great place to start. For those who are in the mid- to late stage of their rehabilitation program, we need to progress the demands of rehabilitation exercises, to assist the adductors to strengthen and withstand more loads. This can be achieved with the Copenhagen Plank – a challenging exercise that uses a combination of isometric and dynamic movements to test the body. The exercise completely relies on the adductor muscle for stability, so complementary muscles are unable to assist in performing the movement. Whilst it is a difficult exercise, there is now a lot of research showing it leads to improved injury prevention rates and reduced injury re-occurrence in adductor strains. This is a good video to show the progressions of the Copenhagen plank, that you can complete as you strengthen your adductors.
If you have an adductor tear, any injuries or wish to include the Copenhagen plank into your training program, consult a health professional to write you an individualised health recovery program. And until 25th March, all Health Space clients have a chance to refer their training buddy or sports mate into the clinic for a free physiotherapy or chiropractic consult. Click here to book.
David is a physiotherapist who practices at the Rozelle and Burwood clinics, and has a passion for treating sports injuries. For specific questions or appointments, call 9810 8769.