Athletes depend on strong, flexible hip muscles for speed and agility. The gracilis muscle, along with four other muscles -- pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis and adductor magnus -- make up the adductor muscle group. These muscles, often called "groin muscles," pull the leg in toward the body. Perform gracilis stretching and strengthening exercises to improve sports performance and reduce risk of injury.
Seated Gracilis Stretch
Stretch your gracilis muscle in a seated position to improve flexibility of your hip adductor muscle group. Bend your knees and bring your heels as close as possible to your groin with the bottoms of your feet touching each other. Sit up straight and gently press down on your knees until you feel a stretch along the inside of your thighs. Do not stretch to the point of pain -- overstretching can cause muscle damage. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Gracilis Stretch on Wall
Stretch your gracilis and other hip adductors with the wall stretch. Lie on your back with your feet on a wall and scoot your bottom up against the wall. Straighten your knees and spread your legs apart until you feel a stretch along your inner thighs. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Cable Hip Adduction
Strengthen your gracilis muscle using a cable pulley. Stand with your right side toward the cable, and attach the ankle strap to the bottom of the pulley. Wrap the strap around your right ankle. Step back slightly with your left leg. Straighten your spine and pull your right leg across your body, crossing in front of your left leg, keeping your toes pointed forward. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions. Repeat this exercise on the left leg.
Side-Lying Hip Adduction
Perform side-lying hip adduction exercises to strengthen your gracilis muscle. Lie on your right side on a firm surface. Bend your left leg and place your left foot flat on the ground in front of your right knee. Keeping your right leg straight, tighten the muscles of your inner thigh and raise your leg toward the ceiling eight to 10 inches from the ground. Hold for two to three seconds then lower back down. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets. Lie on your left side and repeat this exercise to strengthen your left gracilis muscle.