One of my fondest memories of growing up in Canada is ice-skating with my dad. Every Wednesday night, we would attend family skate hour. My dad would just skate the perimeter while I tried to emulate my favorite skating idols. Back crosscuts are a speed gathering transition that all skaters use and when I finally figured out the trick to these smooth glides, I was joyous. As the skater is speeding up, back crosscuts look, from the outside, like the skater is using the front foot and stepping over the back foot, but rather it’s the back foot adducting (moving towards the midline and beyond) that is propelling the action – and then the front foot seamlessly glides across.
The group of muscles that are the agonists, or action muscles, in back cross-cuts are known as the hip adductors. One of the hip adductor muscles is the Adductor Magnus, and is known as the “floor of the adductors” and lies anteriorly to the hamstrings. Its actions are to first, adduct (or pull together) the hips. While on the ice, this is the action in the body that draws the back leg towards and across the midline. Secondly, the posterior fibers also join in in the extension of the hip (they draw the leg behind the body). At the end of the adducting movement, the back leg is in extension, so that the front foot has clearance to float across. During this fancy skating move the back leg is also slightly turned outward, so that the blade of the skate can catch on the ice’s surface. This is accomplished by the portion of the Adductor Magnus that is attached to the shaft of the femur, posteriorly, acting as a lateral rotator.
An adductor strain is a common injury in ice skating. In Yoga Tune Up®, Adductor Slides #2 is a great adductor exercise that offers Adductor Magnus muscle strengthening to prep you for skating season, so you too can trick out your back cross-cuts!
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Well, Im not a skater but this is a perfect way to illustrate the muscle actions used in
adductor slides and to illuminate the actions of the adductors
as a prime movers in drawing the hips to midline – not something we do all the time but yet so necessary to living in a balanced body; in the world of yoga of which I am a part, yogis tend to neglect strength in the adductors because we are so focused on external rotation – and much of the time in a passive range. Its important to remember that is also really important to strengthen the external rotators as well in order to find balance around the entire hip joint. “Dynamic abductor lifts” are great for this!
Great that you are writing about how to strengthen the adductors and reducing the risk of injury in the groin. All too often students are only concerned with stretching, lengthening and ultimately being flexible. Thank you!
Thank you Kristen for taking a movement and breaking down the muscles involved. Skating ice is so slippery and it is important to remember in many sports and movements how crucial the adductors are – the ice rink just magnifies it all!
Great tips! I’ve played hockey for the past 14 years,- will definitely be putting more attention on my stride and will do some adductor slides to prevent injuries in the future 🙂
I am finding lots of adductor weakness from my beginning Pilates students. This is one of the first areas I love to bring awareness to my clients. They love it when I give them homework, I love it more when they are baffled how I know the didn’t do it. I only have one client with an injury and I will check out your recommendations.
Don’t forget the adductors! thanks for the info.
I work as a physiotherapist assistant and we are always giving exercises for strengthening the abductors and much less for strengthening the adductors.they are an overlooked group of muscles.
Thank you for your blog and clear explanation of how the adductor magnus is involved in the crosscutting movement of skating.
In class today we worked on the adductors. I loved this article because it put things into an “every day” perspective for me. Too often we lengthen, but forget to strengthen this muscle group, I am not going to forget anymore!
I’ve never been a strong or fast skater although I enjoy it and would like to get better. Time to focus on my adductors!
Nice! Very important for those of us in warmer climates, I love to roller blade, and often like to imagine that I am ice skating 🙂 same move for us Southern Californians. Thank you for the details of use for the Adductors.
Kristen. Canadian eh? I’m also Canadian and have great memories of skating every day after school. Recently, my daughter and I went cross-country skiing and it was obvious right away how important adductor muscles are in keeping me from falling. Today in Jill’s Level 1 training we did the adductor slide and I found it to be an excellent exercise to target the adductors. Thanks for the memories.
Aw yeah! I always wondered what the trick was to that super slick skating move! I have definitely almost-to-totally bit it several times trying to cross my front foot in front of the the back one. My vow to ace adductor slides is so gonna pay off on the ice this winter. Central Park, watch out.
I like your example, seems like we do not do that many adduction moves in our day to day activities and skating is for sure something lots of people can relate to here in Canada! A good example to give of benefits they could experience from adductor strengthening poses. And great detailed explanation of the muscle action in that skating move, love to understand better how specific movements happen.
Never was much of a skater, but I appreciate those who do it effortlessly and will definitely add adductor slides do my fall classes to help people become aware of these important muscle actions. All of us can use the stability of keeping the legs moving together on slippery surfaces. Ice is not only found in skating rinks!
Adductors….boy, oh boy, I found mine in a YTU class. They had been inactive for quite some time as I certainly found the adductor slides challenging. In reading your article it brings back memories of how I used to (15 years ago) rollerblade for miles and up steep hills. I look back now and realize all of my abductors and adductors of the hip were strong but have been sedentary since. Even though I am active at the gym and in yoga the lightbulb has just turned on as I realize I tend to shy away from adduction exercises. Well enough is enough, I’m getting back to incorporating adductor slides and why not, using the blanket makes the exercise so much more enjoyable and as a bonus my floors will be dust free!!
As a fellow Canadian, I can almost feel the ice under your skates and the chill of the air on your face as you write this blog! Love it. I can’t wait to skate (and ski) this winter now that I know even more about muscles and the way they function in movements we make. My husband is a goalie and YTU is presently helping him with the care of his adductors, abductors and especially that IT band!
Great job connecting the actions of this muscle to a real life movement. In addition to the Adductor Slides #2 that you reference in the article, I would suggest frog crawls, jithara parivartonasana, and setu bandha-bridge to help strengthen the adductor muscles.
I play roller derby, in derby we often see adductor strains. I have been doing the adductor slides with my team to help to strengthen the weakened adductor muscles. I like to take the time to strengthen both the adductors then really focus on strengthening the glute med doing exercises like moon lifts as both are equally important when skating
This post brought memories of when I was a figure skater. In those days my adductors got a good balance of strength and stretch. More recently, there has been a bit of an imbalance in favor of stretch. My adductors are fairly weak, especially in relationship to the strength of my quadriceps, and I believe a contributor to some knee pain I experience. Therefore, I’ve been focusing on building strength and adductor slides are a great method, and so hard! Maybe I’ll be inspired to get back on the ice this winter and see how my crosscuts are faring!
Thanks for this blog, I‘ve seen this injury with many skaters on my roller derby team. Like others have mentioned, in yoga we are usually for focused on lengthening and often there is the misconception that just stretching it out will make it better. (for me this is definitely not the case!) I am going to recommend to my league that we incorporate more activities such as the adductor slide and frog crawls to begin strengthening for injury prevention!
YTU Adductor Slides are so skillful to teach in Yoga classes and make it fun as well to link an awareness to ice skating. These inner thigh muscles are important to strengthen and support flexibility in combination with the gluteal muscles. Thanks for your post.
This week during my class I have been doing a skandasa inner thigh/deep hip opening flow, and I now realize that to make this posture more beneficial for my students, I should offer an isometric contraction of the muscles in order to maintain the strength of the adductors rather than over stretching them out. This is an “ah-ha” moment I had today during YT. Thanks!
Can’t wait to get out rink this season! Definitely going to work on my adductor slides to build them up beforehand! Thanks!
Thank you Kirsten, I too loved those back crosscuts as well as holding on to my horse but since I no long participate in those activities I have noticed their weakness .Thank you for the info on the adductor slides as a way to regain that muscle strength.Cheers Nancy
As Pilates girl, one of my favorite go to moves on the Reformer are leg circles – which provide an excellent place to both stretch and strengthen the adductor muscles, if they are done correctly. I learned in a workshop this weekend that it’s easy to skip actually using these muscles if the legs are too straight and that a slight bend in the knee would take the focus back up into the hips where it belongs. And boy does it – made me realize just how much more I need to activate these muscles on a daily basis.
In YTU we learn to make connections among different physical activities, more over, meeting the gap in between. In yoga we know that tight adductors are “roadblocks” to externally rotated seated poses (for example Baddhakonasana). Alas, the same group of muscles are the powerhouse to fancy ice skating! Like other commentor mentioned, YTU pose adductor slides (in which adductors are stretched and contracted alternatively) is a great example of how YTU aims at exploring both strength and flexibility in all muscles.
Adductor group is essential for skiing too. To be able to take on the slope and move side to side, it is essential that this group of muscles are in tip top shape before hitting the slopes. Thanks for posting.
Thanks for breaking down the adductors with the ice skating visual. Man are my adductors weak and in need of some strengthening, totally felt it in the adductor slides in training. Thanks for detailing what muscles are at work 🙂
This is great information, and I find it very helpful to visualize the leg moving in an activity like skating.
I have weak adductor muscles and practice a combination of YTU therapy ball work and adductor slides.
Thanks for this great info.
What a great blog! I used to horseback ride and also ice skate and play roller hockey, and never gave thought to what muscles I was using, and to what a great extent! Now my adductors have become really weak, so this in an area for me, that needs some strengthening! Thanks!
Funny enough, i am Canadian, was never a skater though, but drawn to your post simply because i love human movement. YTU training is helping me to geek out on simple to complex actions we do regularly to on rare occasions. Adductor slides are challenging for me so i know i need the work…now i’ll be envisioning my adductor magus muscles in a skating-like action next time i do them.
As a previous dancer, my adductors have been my nemesis on the mat, and even with greater awareness fo the need to strengthen my adductors, I still am surprised at times of how much more attention they need. The adductor slides are going to be my new best friend!
Born and raised in Maine, this speaks to my heart! I was the first person every morning out there, shoveling off the snow to get to the ice. I had no idea at the time about adductors, etc. But I do now, because it’s an area I have aggravated through repeated stretching and not strengthening. The adductor slides are tough! And for good reason. Keeping these inner thigh muscles strong and healthy make for a happy midline and happier skating, walking, hiking, dancing, yogaing etc.
Yes i slipped off a horse riding bareback once a long time ago and i believe I still have some trauma from that.
I remember being introduced to mt adductors at that time.
Never thought much about them until doing things like adductors slides which along with other poses from Yoga Tune Up® has made a more proprioceptive difference.
Teaching adductor slides is so much fun and it also gives your students an embodied understanding of what it means to hug the muscle to the bone to stabilize the back leg in standing poses like warrior 2. Thanks for the post
I’ve never skated, ice or otherwise, however, because I come from a professional fitness background I was stoked to see a dynamic exercise for this muscle group that is not tethered to a machine. I feel the participant gets much more value from the proprioception demanded by using their own body for the entirety of the range of motion. P.S. What in the world is a back cross cut?
Kristen, Your posting reminds me of growing up in the Northeast and all the skating I used to do with my brothers. It has ben a long time since I skated. But this week, I’m with MaryBeth and Michelle in the YTU training and, I too, had an “ah-ha” and humbling moment with Adductor Slides noticing my weakness. Most of my experience is not in Yoga, but in dance and sports/fitness. Like MaryBeth, however – I realize that too much of my time has been spent on stretching and not enough on strengthening adductors.
Hi Kristen. I’m with Michelle in YTU TT Level 1 and finding my “adductors”. Most of the yoga practice I’ve done has allowed me to lengthen the adductors and has also resulted in tight abductors and IT bands and improper posture…and…and…and….. As in your blog, the YTU TT is helping to put it all in perspective on how this relates to every day life and our every day activities….not just the activities on our mat during practice. So, it’s another way to take it off the mat and into the world. Thanks for taking time to help us explore these muscles that need our attention!!
Kristen – Thanks for this article. I love the fact that it targets a specific muscle and gives the part if plays in real life. I am more than 1/2 way done my Level I YTU training and I have been discovering my adductors…and how de-conditioned they are. For me yoga classes have been about lengthening those muscles and very little about strengthening them. Ice skating season is all done up here in the Berkshires but now I have motivation and from now until next winter to get my adductors in shape.
Adductors are what kept me on my pony as a kid……she took off while I was riding bareback. I love teaching my students to find their adductors while sitting on a stability ball. Adductors need to hold on!
Thank you for this instruccional post. I haven’t been aware of the importance of streghthen the adductor muscles, and as a fan of skiing and cross coutry ski how usfull this exercise is to integrate that awarenes. The Yoga Tune Up® adductor slides is a fun pose to practice and will also help to awake your core helping to maintain a good posture.
I love ice skating! But that move in particular reminds me of a time I was auditioning in the dance/theatre realm for a production of West Side Story…needless to say, I found my adductors in one of the numbers where we were choreographed to almost sit on our left heel and have our right foot completely abducted on the floor and then to adduct the right hip in towards the left while coming up to stand! Had I known what I know now about tubular core and strengthening the adductors, I would have been able to walk after that audition! Adductor slides are a great way to gain that inner thigh strength, safely and without working on adrenaline-although I may (or may not) book the gig, what is valuable is that I will be able to get up and down and continue to walk afterwards!
I have not been Ice skating since about 40 years ago.I did not know then about Abduction or anything like that. It was just fun to ice skate. Now exploring Yoga and massage for healthy and healing properties has shined an interesting light on the idea that movement as medicine makes a lot of sense. . Yoga Tune Up® is on the cutting edge of transforming inner strength and self healing through movement and caring interaction .“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge” Thomas Carlyle