Fortunately, there are ways to soothe the strain in these affected areas. Enter the adductor rock back, a gentle mobility exercise that entails kneeling on one leg while extending the other to the side and softly rocking back and forth.
The adductor rock back is a terrific twofer as it loosens stiff hips while simultaneously relaxing your pelvic floor. And as a bonus, it also improves flexibility in your inner thighs and supports knee health.
Adductor rock backs are an amazing addition to your regular warm-up routine, says Lee Hanses, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Seattle. They are particularly important for activities that involve the lower extremities, including running, cycling or lifting weights and/or lateral movements, such as soccer, skiing or roller skating, Hanses says.
One set of 10 to 20 reps on each side should do the trick. But if rock backs feel really good, by all means, feel free to add another set or two for a satisfying stretch.
How to Do the Adductor Rock Back
- Kneel on one knee, extending the other leg directly out to the side. Place your hands under your shoulders in front of you for support, and take a deep breath in.
- Keeping your spine straight, exhale as you sit your hips back as far as you can before you notice your back begin to round. You should feel the stretch in the inner thigh of your straight leg.
- While inhaling, gently push forward, “rocking back” to the starting position.
If you have difficulty kneeling, you can modify the movement in a standing position, Hanses says. Here’s how: Start with your feet as wide as possible, then bend one knee and lean into that leg, hinging at the hips to feel a stretch in the inner thigh of the straight leg.
4 Adductor Rock Back Benefits
1. It Builds Better Hip Mobility and Glute Engagement
Many of us suffer from stiff hips due to excessive sitting. Sorry to say, but this poor hip mobility just gets more pronounced with age, because our lifestyles tend to become more sedentary in our later years.
Fortunately, doing adductor rock backs regularly can help offset some of these hip-related issues. "This movement promotes mobilization through the posterior hip capsule, which can become tight and hypomobile as we age," Hanses says.
Plus, happy, healthy hips have a dynamite downstream effect on your derriere. "Maintaining good posterior capsule mobility promotes better glute engagement during exercise," she adds. In other words, good hip mobility enables your glutes — the largest and most powerful muscle in your body — to grow stronger and function better.
Because strong gluteus muscles are pivotal for performing most types of major movements (from standing to walking, running and scaling stairs), this is a big benefit.
2. It Relieves Tension in the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Like any other type of skeletal muscle, your pelvic floor can become too tense. But when your muscles can't relax, they become incapable of the correct coordination necessary to control certain bodily functions, per the Cleveland Clinic. As a result, you may experience problems with peeing and pooping, as well as painful sex.
While adductor rock backs aren't a cure-all for pelvic floor dysfunction, they can help temper some of the tension. "This movement promotes relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, which can become too tense or tight over time," Hanses says.
Coordinating your breath with the movement can be especially helpful, she adds. Here's how: Exhale as you sit back into the move and inhale as you return to the starting position.
If you’re experiencing pain or tightness in your pelvic floor, consult with a pelvic floor specialist who can help pinpoint your pelvic problem and provide an individualized treatment plan.
3. It Improves Flexibility in Your Inner Thighs
Your inner thighs, aka your adductors, are another area where tightness can creep up.
The rock back "stretches the adductor group from many angles," Hanses says. And having long, loose adductors is advantageous, because your inner thigh muscles play an important part in stability and balance.
Indeed, the exercise's forward and backward rocking motion is beneficial for everyday movements, such as getting in and out of a car or sitting cross-legged on the floor, as well as advanced athletic maneuvers, Hanses says.
4. It Enhances Knee Health
When other leg muscles become weak or too tight, this can cause a damaging domino effect down to your knees.
For example, tension in your hips or inner thighs can result in muscular imbalances, creating abnormal forces that are distributed through your knee joint, Hanses says.
"By facilitating adequate mobility and stability [in other areas of the body], we will reduce the likelihood of strain and injury in the knees," she says. Simply put, doing mobility exercises, like rock backs, can reap secondary benefits for your knee health.
This is essential for our knees, which tend to take a beating due to daily wear-and-tear and often become trouble spots for age-related aches and pains like arthritis.
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