One of the most painful, frustrating and lingering athletic injuries is a groin pull, a problem that can last for many months and easily repeat once it happens.
A groin pull is a tear or sprain to one or more of the adductor group of muscles in the hip, groin and thigh area. The fan-shaped muscles pull the legs together and help stabilize the hip joint. If one or both legs are extended outward past its normal range of motion, the adductor will instantly contract, trying to prevent the split. But a forceful outward movement of the thigh can yank on the muscle, spraining or tearing it.
Even after the pain of a groin pull goes away, tissues can still be inflamed. The pain can radiate down the leg, making any active movement of the lower body impossible.
The best way to prevent this injury is to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the inner thigh.
Start with the piece of equipment at the gym that’s always a source of humor, the adductor machine. Start with your legs spread comfortably; there should be no pain or pressure in your groin or thigh. Begin with a light resistance as you pull your legs together. After every two or three workouts, you can slightly increase both the resistance and the range of motion of the machine.
You can simulate an adductor machine with elastic cords or tubing. Tie a loop at each end of the stretchy stuff, hook one loop over a doorknob, bring the tubing under the door and put your foot through the loop on the other end. Stand further away to increase the resistance. The only problem with this method is that it’s not as stable as a machine, and it doesn’t allow you work the abductors, the opposing muscles which move the legs outward.
Every adductor resistance workout should be followed by a stretching session. One good stretch is to sit on the floor and put the soles of your feet together. Place a hand on each ankle, and gently press your knees down with your arms. While sitting on the floor, also place your legs as wide as is comfortable, then lean from side to side.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com).