Why adductor magnus muscle is large: the function based on muscle morphology in cadavers

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Feb;24(1):197-203. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2012.01466.x. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


The aim of this study was to examine anatomical properties of the adductor magnus through a detailed classification, and to hypothesize its function and size to gather enough information about morphology. Ten cadaveric specimens of the adductor magnus were used. The muscle was separated into four portios (AM1-AM4) based on the courses of the corresponding perforating arteries, and its volume, muscle length, muscle fiber length and physiological cross-sectional area were assessed. The architectural characteristics of these four portions of the adductor magnus were then classified with the aid of principal component analysis. The results led us into demarcating the most proximal part of the adductor magnus (AM1) from the remaining parts (AM2, AM3, and AM4). Classification of the adductor magnus in terms of architectural characteristics differed from the more traditional anatomical distinction. The AM2, AM3, and AM4, having longer muscle fiber lengths than the AM1, appear to be designed as displacers for moving the thigh through a large range of motion. The AM1 appears instead to be oriented principally toward stabilizing the hip joint. The large mass of the adductor magnus should thus be regarded as a complex of functionally differentiable muscle portions.

Keywords: adductor muscles; muscle fiber length; muscle length; physiological cross-sectional area; volume.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology*
  • Thigh / physiology