EMG evaluation of hip adduction exercises for soccer players: implications for exercise selection in prevention and treatment of groin injuries

Br J Sports Med. 2014 Jul;48(14):1108-14. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091746. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Introduction: Exercise programmes are used in the prevention and treatment of adductor-related groin injuries in soccer; however, there is a lack of knowledge concerning the intensity of frequently used exercises.

Objective: Primarily to investigate muscle activity of adductor longus during six traditional and two new hip adduction exercises. Additionally, to analyse muscle activation of gluteals and abdominals.

Materials and methods: 40 healthy male elite soccer players, training >5 h a week, participated in the study. Muscle activity using surface electromyography (sEMG) was measured bilaterally for the adductor longus during eight hip adduction strengthening exercises and peak EMG was normalised (nEMG) using an isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) as reference. Furthermore, muscle activation of the gluteus medius, rectus abdominis and the external abdominal obliques was analysed during the exercises.

Results: There were large differences in peak nEMG of the adductor longus between the exercises, with values ranging from 14% to 108% nEMG (p<0.0001). There was a significant difference between legs in three of the eight exercises (35-48%, p<0.0001). The peak nEMG results for the gluteals and the abdominals showed relatively low values (5-48% nEMG, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Specific hip adduction exercises can be graded by exercise intensity providing athletes and therapists with the knowledge to select appropriate exercises during different phases of prevention and treatment of groin injuries. The Copenhagen Adduction and the hip adduction with an elastic band are dynamic high-intensity exercises, which can easily be performed at any training facility and could therefore be relevant to include in future prevention and treatment programmes.

Keywords: Exercise; Groin injuries; Injury Prevention; Physiotherapy; Soccer.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Electrodes
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Groin / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Young Adult