Groin muscles are called the “Hip Adductors” – they are situated in the inner region of the thigh. Their primary action is to bring both thighs together and to stabilize the hips (pelvis). But this action significantly changes when the same muscles are subjected to running. Remember, distance running is an endurance sport. That means it involves thousands and thousands of repetitions of the limbs. Hence, this repetition combined with movement and speed converts into “IMPACT”. This impact makes and breaks too.
For example, when impact goes through our body, it makes our bones stronger, increases our metabolism and so on. On the other hand, if this impact passes through structures (muscles and bones) which are not strong or flexible enough to imbibe this impact, it results in muscular strains, sprains or ruptures. Groin injuries are very common and they take longer time than other injuries to recover, owing to the following mechanics behind them.
The hip adductor muscle, which is the main muscle in the groin region, stabilizes the hip while running. This is the reason our hips do not swindle (like when cat walking), while running. When we shift weight to one leg while lifting the other leg in the air while running - this is the phase when the groin muscles take the maximum load during the run. Hence, if this muscle is excessively stiff, its ability to absorb the impact will also be significantly less, paving way for a near-groin strain.
Another instance where the groin could get strained is…guess what? As I had mentioned earlier the groin muscles (Hip Adductors) are the hip stabilizers. The hip is also stabilized by another strong group of muscles called the “Core Muscles”. If the core muscles are weak or not trained regularly, the groin muscles (Hip Adductors) will have to work harder to compensate for core weakness and hence get injured soon.
Treating and preventing groin injuries
Acute management requires icing and rest for symptoms to be relieved. Then the following exercise in the form of stretches helps to get them back to shape. These stretches need to be done in this combination, as when the groin is strained the surrounding muscles also need to be addressed since they too may contribute to the problem.
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This stretch is a primary hip opener, stretching the “Illio-Psoas” muscle. The knee on the ground needs to be cushioned. The stretch force comes by pushing the hip forward. The leg forward will get a hamstring stretch. And the leg on the cushion will get a front hip stretch on the Illio Psoas muscle.
This stretch is a direct hip adductor stretch. The seating surface should be lower than the knee height. Stretch force comes by pushing the knees apart.
This is a hamstring stretch. Where one leg is kept ahead of the other and by arresting both the knees you need to bend forward. The hamstring in the forward leg would get stretched. Hamstring tension adds to the groin strain and hence needs to be addressed in this combination.
The last in this combination is the outer hip and the IT band stretch. While lying down pull the foot with both hands towards the face. The stretch will be appreciated in the outer thigh and the butt region.