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Prevent Groin Pulls with These Exercises

By Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

Injuries of the groin muscles, or adductor muscles complex, are one of the most problematic issues in a number of sports. According to a 2007 report featured in the Sports Medicine Journal, groin injuries are most common in field sports such as rugby, soccer and ice hockey [1]. Groin overuse injuries are also relatively common in other field sports such as football and lacrosse.

The report identified core weakness as a possible underlying cause in groin pain in athletes & groin injuries, as coactivation, or simultaneous firing of the core musculature and adductors must occur during the athletic movements the adductors generate.

The adductor complex is a composed of an assemblage of muscles layered on top of one another, cordoning the inner thighs. They balance the pelvis during gait and as mentioned earlier, contribute to athletic movements, which include twisting, turning, and pivoting, they are also key players in pelvic stability, such as activities of daily living which include climbing stairs and picking up objects.

The superficial layer, consisting of the adductor longus, adducts the hip, pulling in inward and also assists with hip flexion and internal rotation of a flexed knee. The middle layer, consisting of the adductor brevis, also adducts and flexes the hip. The deep layer, consisting of the two aspects of adductor magnus, adducts the hips and contributes to hip flexion via its anterior aspect and hip extension via its posterior aspect.

Injury Etiology

Adductor muscle or tendon injuries stem from a forceful twisting, turning, or pivoting motion of the hips that cannot be counteracted by the hip abductors and core musculature, resulting in a powerful contraction or intense stretch that cause the adductors to strain or tear.

Injuries susceptibility may be magnified by a host of issues including:

  • Stiff and tight groin
  • Weak core and hip abductors
  • Poor hip internal rotation
  • Poor pelvic and lumbar stability

Below are a couple of exercises which will help you gain adductor length, hip mobility, and core strength.

Adductor Foam Roll – Addresses Adductor Length

  • Lie supine placing forearms on ground to support your upper body
  • Situate a foam roller beneath your thigh and inside the knee, having in run parallel with your torso
  • Bend the knee and glide laterally atop the foam roller, keeping the core braced
  • Pause on areas that are tender or tight, applying pressure until the tightness is reduced or up to ten seconds

Sets/Time: 2x:30-60, each side

Quadruped Fire Hydrant – Addresses Hip Mobility

  • Assume all-fours position
  • Pick right knee off floor
  • Rotate clockwise through entire range of motion for specified reps; keep knee at 90-degree angle
  • Repeat in counterclockwise direction
  • Perform set with opposite leg

Sets/Reps: 2×10-15 each direction, each side

Kettlebell Goblet Asterisk Lunge – Addresses Hip Mobility and Core Stength

  • Grasp a kettlebell with two hands and hold it against your chest and under your chin
  • Keep the core braced the entire time, inhaling as you drop into a respective lunge position and exhaling as you return to a standing position
  • In this order on one side, perform a forward lunge with the foot directly in front of the knee, forward lunge with the foot outside of the hip, lateral lunge, reverse lunge with the foot outside of the hip, and lastly a reverse lunge with the foot lined up with the knee of the same side
  • Briefly pause in the bottom of each lunge, maintaining a tight core, big chest and upright torso
  • Switch sides
  • One set is when both sides are completed

Sets: 2-3 sets, each side

Sumo Plank – Addresses Core Strength and Adductor Length

  • Assume a plank position
  • Place your feet out wide, pressing your toes against the floor
  • Keep the core braced and spine neutral
  • Hold for desired amount of time

Sets/Time: 2-4 sets, :15-30 each set


[1] Maffey L & Emery C. “What are the risk factors for groin strain injury in sport? A systematic review of the literature.” Sports Medicine. 2007.

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