It’s not uncommon for athletes to suffer from groin pain, especially those competing in sports that require sprinting and lots of lateral movement. Groin pulls and strains are a part of competitive life and not only limited to athletes of high velocity sports, but also individuals suffering from weakened abdominal and hip muscles, most notably the iliopsoas muscle.
The groins facilitate leg movement and play an important role as a muscle group in the interaction of between the hips and thighs. Anything that requires hip or thigh adduction – the movement of the hips and legs toward the middle or axis of the body – can cause pain, strains and pulls if any one of the five adductor muscles is weak or stiff.
So what exactly are the ‘groin’ muscles and how does one prevent injury to, and strengthen this muscle group? We explore both questions below and offer a list of the best groin stretches for preventing injury.
What Is The Groin Muscle?
Most people colloquially refer to the groin region is the area just south of the lower abdomen where tendons, ligaments, and fascia connect to one’s pubic bone. This is also called the inguinal region and includes the inguinal ligament which connects the pubic bone to the groin.
When people speak of groin injuries in an athletic sense, most of the time they are referring to one of the five adductor muscles which combine to form the ‘groin muscle’ located along the inner thigh which is responsible for locomotion movements of the legs. The 5 adductor muscles included in the groin are the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracillis, and pectineus.
The pectineus is the most anterior adductor that connects the hip flexor (psoas major) to the rest of the adductor muscles. The adductor tendons connect to the pubic bone via a continuous sheet of fibers spread over the region, joining the adductor tendons, inguinal ligament, and rectus muscles.
It is important to know that any problem caused in the pubic tubercle causes upper groin pain but it is difficult to differentiate it from lower that is caused by adductor tendon origin. Generally speaking if the inflammation, pain, soreness is radiating from the pubic region, it’s considered a groin hernia, pain radiating from the adductor muscles is what most people refer to when they talk about groin pain.
Groin Pulls, Strains and Tears
The groin or adductor muscles are what aid the stability and movement of the leg muscles. Any strain or tear caused to these muscles can result in excruciating pain in the groin region that extends from the hip area to the legs. Overuse of groin muscles repeatedly, especially when athletes do not warm up before playing can cause groin inflammation.
Sudden change of direction or rapid movement can also cause strain to the adductor muscles resulting in a groin pull. Weak adductor muscles can also be a reason of lower back pains and hernia as they weaken the abdomen and hip flexors.
A groin pull is also characterized by pain in inner thighs as well as feeling pain when raising the knee or bringing legs together. Mild pain the groin region as a result of a groin pull can be relieved through groin stretches. It also helps increase the flexibility and strength of the groin and pelvic floor. Groin stretches for men slightly differ from those for women, and there are many different types of stretches that can be performed to strengthen this muscle region or relieve from pain.
The Six Best Groin Stretches
1. Seated Short Adductor Groin Stretch Aka the Butterfly Stretch
Doing this adductor stretch helps you to stretch your hips, groin, inner thighs, and lower back. To perform this stretch, sit on the floor with your feet together and your knees dropped sideways. Lean forward from your hips by holding your feet with hands and pushing yourself further.
2. Seated Long Adductor Groin Stretch
To perform this adductor stretch that stretches adductor muscles below the knees, sit on the floor with your legs as far apart as possible as shown in the picture above. Keep your back straight and lean forward, as much as you can with your knees straight.
Another good way to stretch the inner thigh muscles is by standing with feet apart. It requires no equipment. Bend your left knee in a way of a side lunge and push your right hip to the ground by keeping the right leg straight and leaning your body to the right. Hold the position for a few seconds before changing sides.
All the groin adductor muscles can be stretched equally by performing the lying glute adductor stretch. Simply lie on the floor, crossing the left leg over the other and stretching the right leg by bringing it closer to you.
This groin stretch is an advanced one and helps stretch both sides at once. To perform this stretch, stand with your feet wide apart and squat down to bend your knees at a 90 degrees angle such that they are directly over the ankles. Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times. You should feel a stretch in the groin muscles in both legs.
6. Deep Groin Extensions
This groin stretch will help you to stretch the hip, groin, and lower back muscles together. Sit with your left knee on the ground and stretch your right elbow by placing it on the inside of the right knee. Twist your torso to the left by stretching your left arm towards the back gently. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and right groin. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg..