The groin strain is one of the most common sports injuries we see at P3. The groin is where the muscles of your lower abdominals, inner thigh and the front of your hip meet. These muscles are important for power, cutting, sprinting, and jumping. So if you are an active person, in high school/college/recreational sports – definitely a good idea to throw some of these ideas into the mix for training.
Warm Up and Hydrate
An active warm up is key to this group of muscles. While stretching is good, you want to be sure to practice the positions you may take during your workout or game. This primes the muscles and brain, allowing these movements to occur safely and efficiently. For example, jogging and working up to a challenging speed, or slow to faster later shuffles, and cutting drills are all more skill and power related activities to get you ready for the task ahead. The key to any warm up is to start slow and increase your heart rate gradually; you may even break a little sweat. Make sure water intake is sufficient as well in order to keep things moving and grooving. Muscles and tendons need to stay hydrated so you don’t cramp or strain them. Think about a leaf; when it has water inside and green it is nice and pliable, but remove the water and it becomes brittle. You want to stay as limber as possible as well!
Definitely an area we all should work more are the adductors. While their main job is to bring your leg closer to your midline, some of them help with hip flexion and hip extension. These specific motions are important for every sport or workout routine. Since most of us don’t target these that often, you will want to start a little more conservative on programming these and build up to heavier or more complex exercises. Starting with ball squeezes between your knees while sitting or lying down to the Copenhagen exercise. Adding a hold of one second or more to each rep will add an endurance piece to each rep you complete. Also, starting lighter will allow you to train in some deeper or farther ranges of motions, where these muscles may not be as strong. Rep ranges of 6-10 are a good place to start with just going until fatigue, or “a good burn.” Do not try and make these the hardest things you do out of the gate.
Posterior Chain Work
As noted above, groin strains occur most commonly with powerful movements; IE sprinting, cutting, and sometimes jumping. Isolating the muscles of the posterior chain is also important. Your posterior chain involves your low back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Your groin muscles help all of these muscles complete some part of their job with compound movements (jumping, etc). Targeting each of these groups individually as best you can makes the whole chain that much stronger and will lead to better performance. Incorporating hamstring curls, calf raises, or supermans at the end of your workouts or training sessions are all examples of exercises that can help keep you performing. Below is an example of an alternating superman exercise that can help strengthen the posterior chain.
Sports Specific Training to Prevent A Groin Strain
Last but not least is Sports Specific Training. This involves skill work that teaches the brain and body how to coordinate movements, practice unusual movements that we don’t do every day, and creates some work for muscles in those new positions. We don’t spend most of our day doing zig drills in the office, sprinting after a long through, or planting and diving after a ball. When we think back on practice at a younger age versus the adult life we lead now, we spent a lot more time with these activities back then. For some injuries and issues, age is not really a factor, it’s how you are training for the activity you are wanting to do. Doing bench and curls 3 days a week and then playing 6 games of basketball on the weekend does not really add up to a successful gameplan. We are all busy by some definition, but if you are choosing to play a sport, make sure to practice some parts of that sport before game day! Lateral cutting drills, going for runs, and plyometrics are all ways to get warm up or even get a sweat going during a workout. Coaches always say practice should be harder than the game. For the most part, that is true as we remain active.
Groin Strain Treatment and Prevention
If you are not sure where to start or how to progress, getting a hold of your local movement specialist, aka a Physical Therapist, is a great place to start. We will assess your strength and endurance and guide you on where and how to help prevent a groin strain, keeping you on the court, in the gym, or on the field. If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area and are looking to have a groin strain treated, feel free to fill out a Free Phone Consultation form to speak to one of our doctors about your injury.