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Resistance bands are light latex tubes or strips that you can use to work your entire body. They are especially useful in training the abductor and adductor muscles that lie on the outer and inner hip and thigh region. Targeting these muscles directly can be tricky, especially without the big, bulky machines found at the gym. Resistance bands are inexpensive and easily stored at home or in a suitcase, so training is always possible.
Hip or leg abduction occurs when you move your leg out to the side. The muscles primarily responsible for this movement are the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus at the upper outer hip. Moving your leg in toward your body requires the use of the adductor muscles at the inner thigh - the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus and gracilis. You need strong adductor and abductor muscles for athletic lateral movements, such as shuffling in a basketball or football game. Strong adductor and abductor muscles are also intrinsic in forward movements, such as running or walking, because they help stabilize the pelvis and ultimately the knee and ankles. If you do not train these muscles, you can experience pain in these joints. The outer and inner leg and hip muscles also assist in simple daily activities such as climbing stairs and lifting boxes.
Use a band in the form of a loop to perform standing hip abduction. If you are new to the exercise, have a chair or a wall nearby to hold on to for stabilization. Place the band around your ankles and put all your weight onto your left leg. If you are using a chair, place your left hand on the chair. Engage your abdominals and stand tall as you lift and lower your right leg out to the side. You can also do abductor exercises from a lying down position. The clamshell exercise is done with the looped band positioned around your thighs, just above the knees. Lie on your right side and bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your hips stacked and your heels together as you lift your top leg up and down.
Use a looped band to also do adductor muscle exercises. Assume the same stance as you did for the standing abduction exercise, with the band around the ankles and your right hand on a chair or wall positioned to the right side of your body. Shift your weight into the left leg and then move the leg closest to the chair -- the right one - across the midline of your body. Keep your foot flexed as you bring it back to the starting position to complete one repetition.
Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician. Resistance band abductor and adductor exercises can be done two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Repeat each exercise for at least one set of 15 to 20 repetitions, adding another set or two as you become stronger. Bands come in a variety of thickness - thicker, denser bands offer more resistance. Choose the thickness that offers enough challenge so that the last few repetitions feel hard. Do not hold your breath when you perform the exercises; inhale and exhale normally.