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The Adductor Pollicis is a vital muscle in the human hand responsible for controlling thumb movement. This article will discuss its anatomy, function, and importance, as well as offer guidance on stretching and strengthening techniques. By understanding this essential muscle, you can take steps to ensure proper hand function and maintain overall hand health.

The Anatomy of the Adductor Pollicis

The Two Heads: Transverse and Oblique

The Adductor Pollicis is an intrinsic triangular muscle that has two heads: the transverse and oblique. These heads originate from different locations within the hand, with the transverse head beginning at the palmar base of the third metacarpal bone and the oblique head originating from the capitate bone and the palmar bases of the second and third metacarpals.

Blood Supply and Innervation

The radial artery passes between the two heads of the Adductor Pollicis and forms the deep palmar arch, supplying blood to the muscle. The muscle is innervated by the deep branch of the ulnar nerve, which is responsible for providing sensation and motor function to the thumb.

The Function of the Adductor Pollicis

Adduction and Flexion

The primary function of the Adductor Pollicis is to adduct the thumb, which moves the thumb toward the midline of the hand. This movement is essential for grasping objects and performing other fine motor tasks. Additionally, the Adductor Pollicis assists in thumb flexion, which involves bending the thumb towards the palm.

Part of the Thenar Muscle Group

The Adductor Pollicis is part of the thenar muscle group, which also includes the abductor pollicis, flexor pollicis brevis, and opponens pollicis. Together, these muscles control various movements of the thumb and contribute to overall hand function.

Evolutionary Significance

This muscle has evolved from the “contrahendI muscle” in human ancestors as the thumbs and big toes became opposable. In humans, the physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) of the oblique head is relatively enlarged, and both heads act as flexors at the carpometacarpal joint. This evolution has allowed for greater dexterity and fine motor control in our species.

Assessing the Adductor Pollicis

Froment’s Sign

Froment’s sign is a clinical test used to assess the function of the Adductor Pollicis muscle. It involves having the patient grasp a piece of paper between the thumb and the index finger while the examiner attempts to pull the paper away. If the thumb flexes at the interphalangeal joint to maintain grip, it indicates a compromised Adductor Pollicis muscle.

Neuromuscular Monitoring

In neuromuscular monitoring, the strength of Adductor Pollicis contraction is measured by stimulating the ulnar nerve. This assessment can provide valuable information about the muscle’s health and function, especially in cases of nerve injury or other medical conditions affecting the hand.

Causes of Adductor Pollicis Pain

Pain in the Adductor Pollicis muscle can be caused by a variety of factors, including arthritis, trauma, or excessive strain. The muscle may fatigue slower in women and recover faster from exhaustion compared to men, but it is still susceptible to injury and overuse.

Strengthening the Adductor Pollicis

Correlation with Overall Muscle Mass

Research suggests that the thickness of the Adductor Pollicis may be correlated with overall body muscle mass. Therefore, maintaining healthy body composition and engaging in regular physical activity can have a positive impact on the muscle’s strength and function.

Simple Exercises for Muscle Strength

To improve the strength of the Adductor Pollicis, you can perform simple exercises such as gripping a rubber ball or engaging in resisted thumb adduction. These activities can help build muscle endurance and prevent injury.

Locating and Releasing the Adductor Pollicis Trigger Point

Trigger points are tight, painful spots within muscles that can cause discomfort and limit movement. To locate the Adductor Pollicis trigger point, place a light hand just below the thumb and bring the thumb closer to the fingers. You should feel a tender area in the muscle where the trigger point is located.

Self-release Techniques

To self-release the Adductor Pollicis trigger point, place the pads of your thumb over the muscle and press into it for about 30 seconds. This sustained pressure can help alleviate tension and discomfort in the muscle.

Stretching the Adductor Pollicis

Stretching the Adductor Pollicis can help maintain flexibility and prevent injury. To perform a stretch for this muscle, follow these steps:

  1. Place your hand on a table with the palm facing down.
  2. Hold onto the thumb with your other hand.
  3. Slowly pull the thumb away from the midline of the hand for 30 seconds.

By performing this stretch regularly, you can help maintain the muscle’s flexibility and support overall hand function.


The Adductor Pollicis is a crucial muscle in the human hand, responsible for controlling thumb movement and contributing to overall hand function. Understanding its anatomy and function can help you maintain proper hand health and prevent injury. By engaging in regular stretching and strengthening exercises, you can ensure that this important muscle remains strong and flexible, supporting the myriad tasks our hands perform daily.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise regimen or if you experience persistent pain in the Adductor Pollicis or any other hand muscles. They can provide guidance on appropriate exercises and treatments to address your specific needs and ensure optimal hand health.

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