Difference Between Abduction and Adduction (With Table)

Anatomy deals with the structure and structural organization of living beings. It is categorised as a branch of natural science. Anatomy is a very ancient science and has been used since the prehistoric period. The basic function of anatomy is to study the movements of the body parts of living beings. Abduction and Adduction form the part of an anatomical structure of the body.

Abduction vs Adduction

The difference between Abduction and Adduction is the movement in a direction with respect to the midline or centre of the body. A midline is an imaginary line that is used to divide the body into two parts from left to right, head to toe. Midline also means it is the centre of a body. Abduction is the motion that happens when the body moves away from the centreline. Adduction is the motion when the body moves towards the centerline.

Abduction is a concept related to anatomy. It shows the motion of the body or anatomical structure that is away from the midline. It means that the hands of a person will move far(expansion) from the body at the point of the wrist. The expansion of the hand is known as radial deviation. Abduction takes place in the hip, foot, hands etc. Any muscle in our body that causes motion away from or out of the body is called an abductor. 

Adduction is also related to anatomy and physiology. It shows the motion of the body towards the midline. It means the movements of our body parts are inside. For example, while bringing arms down to the shoulders, i.e. at the sides. The contraction which takes place is known as Adduction. It happens in every part of the body, like in hands, knees, toes, fingers etc. When hands are moved closer towards the wrist. The process is known as ulnar deviation. The muscles that do adduction is known as adductors.

Comparison Table Between Abduction and Adduction

Parameters of ComparisonAbductionAdduction
CausesAbductors are responsible for abduction.Adductors are responsible for adduction. 
Leg MusclesIn this, thighs are spread. In this, thighs are moved inwards.
Arm MusclesIt takes place in Supraspinatus and Deltoid. It takes place in pectoralis major and Latissimus dorsi.
Anatomical StructuresIt involves short fibres.It involves long fibres. 
Hand and Foot MusclesFingers and Toes move apart.Fingers and toes move together.

What is Abduction?

Movement of the body and limbs which pulls it away from the centre of the body is termed as Abduction. When the hands are swung higher or taken up to the shoulders is when the process of abduction takes place. Moving the arms laterally or taking your knees apart from the body are examples of abduction. Muscles that are involved in the process of Abduction are called Abductors muscles.

When the hands are far away from the wrist and the centre of the body, then it is called radial deviation. When hands move apart, it is a radial styloid. Movement of Hips, Shoulders, Foot, Toes, Vocal Cords, Wrist and Face all have the process of abduction. When the movement of the face is far from the neck or expanding from the centerline. Abduction takes place when there is an expansion of the digits far from the feet and hand centerline. When a person is not speaking, relaxing is in a quiet mode. Abduction helps to pull aside the vocal cords, which makes it easier for a person to breathe normally.

It takes place in the shoulder when a person raises their arms and moves far away to the sides. In hips, also when a person raises the legs and moves it far away out to the sides, then abduction happens. Supraspinatus muscle and deltoid muscles are responsible for abduction in the arms. Gluteus Muscles are responsible for the legs. Abductors have very short fibres in comparison with Adductors.

What is Adduction?

 The movement of the body and limbs which pulls it towards the centre of the body is termed Adduction. When there is a contraction in the toes and fingers, it moves towards the body via the help of the adductor’s muscles. The length of fibres that are found in the adductor’s muscles is longer, unlike the abductor’s muscles. When there are long fibres, it is seen that it produces a greater force in a muscle. 

Adductor Magnus and Brevis have a greater force. For the adduction of the fingers, palmar interossei are responsible. For arms, the latissimus dorsi is responsible, which is also a back muscle of our body. In human thighs, three important adductors are found which are responsible for the process of adduction, i.e. adductor Longus, adductor Magnus and adductor Brevis. All these muscles are attached to the femur and pelvic bones of the legs.

For the movement of the big toe, adductor hallucis is responsible. For spreading toes, plantar interossei also play an important role. When a person is speaking, adduction helps vocal cords to move close, i.e. towards the base of the larynx, which makes way for the movement of air to happen faster and thus, sounds are produced. 

Main Differences Between Abduction and Adduction

  1. Abductors muscles are responsible for the process of Abduction. Adductors muscles are responsible for the process of Adduction.
  2. In Abduction, thighs are spread out. Gluteus minimus and gluteus medius are the muscles. In Adduction, thighs are moved inwards. Adductors Brevis, Magnus and Longus are the muscles.
  3. Abduction takes place in Supraspinatus and Deltoid, which is attached to the scapula and humerus. Adduction takes place in the pectoralis major and Latissimus dorsi, which is a back muscle.
  4. Abduction involves short fibres in length. Adduction involves long fibres in length has a greater force. 
  5. Fingers and Toes move apart in Abduction. Fingers and toes move together in Adduction.


Both Abduction and Adduction are motions that occur due to anatomy in the body. Both take place from the epicentre of the body i.e. midline or centerline, which is an imaginary line drawn for convenience. All the limbs, joints and other parts perform the functions of Abduction and Adduction. Both are very important as they are responsible for maintaining varied anatomical position in the body. In simple words, it can be said Abduction and Adduction are responsible for the expansion and contraction of anatomical structures in the body.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1051044307613086
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002192900100080X
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