Adductor Magnus

By Christy Cael
[Functional Anatomy]

Adductor Magnus
• Origin: Inferior ramus of pubis, ramus of the ischium, and ischial tuberosity
• Insertion: Medial lip of linea aspera, medial supracondylar line, and adductor tubercle of the femur
• Adducts the hip
• Flexes the hip (anterior fibers)
• Extends the hip (posterior fibers)
• Obturator and sciatic nerves
• L2–S1

The adductor magnus is the largest adductor muscle of the thigh. Along with several other adductor muscles, the adductor magnus connects the inferior, medial pelvic girdle to the femur. The broad fibers of the adductor magnus are nearly continuous, following the entire length of the femur, attaching on the medial edge of the linea aspera. Despite its large size, the adductor magnus is located deep in the medial thigh, making it a challenge to palpate. Anteriorly, it lies deep to the pectineus, adductor longus, and adductor brevis. Posteriorly, the adductor magnus lies deep to the hamstring muscles, but is superficial at the proximal portion of the posteromedial thigh.
Functionally, the adductor magnus joins the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and gracilis in pulling the femur toward the midline. This is most apparent when the foot on the same side is not planted. Activating the adductor group helps position the lower extremity for heel strike when walking and running. The adductor magnus is also recruited for kicking during activities like soccer or football. The main function of the adductor magnus occurs when the foot is planted. Here it helps stabilize the pelvis over the femur. The adductor magnus is able to stabilize and maintain a neutral pelvic position due to its broad origin. It also pulls the pelvis medially, anteriorly, or posteriorly, centering it over the lower extremity. Without it and the other adductors, the pelvis would shift medially over the knee, compromising stability and alignment in the lower extremity.
The role of the adductor magnus and the other adductors also changes with the position of the femur. When the hip is flexed and the femur is forward, the adductors will extend the hip to bring the pelvis over the foot. When the hip is extended and the femur is back, the adductors will flex the hip to swing the leg forward. The adductor magnus has a particularly good mechanical advantage for both hip flexion and extension. This is due to its origin on both the pubis and ischium and its long posterior insertion on the femur.
Appropriate activation of the adductor magnus is essential to pelvic stabilization and maintaining alignment between the pelvis and lower extremity, both statically and dynamically. Poor activation, inadequate strength, or decreased endurance in the adductor magnus may lead to hypertonicity, shortening, and overuse of the other hip muscles, particularly the hamstring muscles, in an effort to compensate and stabilize the pelvis.

Palpating Adductor Magnus
Positioning: client prone.
1. Standing at the client’s side facing the thigh, locate the ischial tuberosity with your fingertips.
2. Slide your fingers medially and distally toward the medial femoral condyle.
3. Palpate between the gracilis and medial hamstrings following the descending fibers of the adductor magnus to the middle of the inner thigh.
4. Client gently resists adduction of the hip to ensure proper location.

Client Homework: Wide-Legged Forward Bend
1. Begin standing, facing forward, feet placed wide apart.
2. Inhale as you stand up tall, reaching the crown of your head up toward the ceiling.
3. Exhale and bend forward at your hips, keeping the front of your torso elongated.
4. Drop your head and gaze behind you as you rest your hands on the floor.
5. Activate your thigh muscles to lift your torso back up to a standing position.
Editor’s note: The Client Homework element in Functional Anatomy is intended as a take-home resource for clients experiencing issues with the profiled muscle. The stretches identified in Functional Anatomy should not be performed within massage sessions or progressed by massage therapists, in order to comply with state laws and maintain scope of practice.

Christy Cael is a licensed massage therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Her private practice focuses on injury treatment, biomechanical analysis, craniosacral therapy, and massage for clients with neurological issues. She is the author of Functional Anatomy: Musculoskeletal Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Palpation for Manual Therapists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009). Contact her at