Two posts ago (see: here), I wrote about groin issues related to hip range of motion deficits in soccer players. Limited hip range of motion can be a big issue regarding injuries to different area of the body as well as various soft-tissue structures (hip flexor, quad, groin). Adding to the previous related post, I wanted to point to some strategies we implement with our players to help prevent groin strains.
Soft-Tissue work the adductors (groins), hip flexors, and glutes: These three take top priority, however, addressing all areas for maintenance would be a wise choice since many athletes may not have a roller. We have tended to opt for rolling the groins with a medicine ball as it is more dense than the roller. For the glutes and external rotators, we like to use a lacrosse ball.
Improve Hip Flexion: We will use these typically as part of the training program between sets of exercises that help compliment each other (primarily sprint drills).
Seated/Standing Psoas Lifts
Static Stretching: Typically, with most soccer players, they are going to love stretching their groins but this usually leads to excessive frontal plane flexibility and not enough in the sagittal plane. We also want to stretch or mobilize the glutes (since they get neglected more often). If someone typically has a groin strain, stretching it can make the recovery process last even longer and stretching will usually cause pain (aka do not do it). Stretches to consider: glute stretches, 1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretches, rectus femoris mobilizations, and lying knee-to-knee stretches (girls need not do this one)
Lateral Hip Rock (Glutes)
Incorporating Primarily Single Leg Lifts (Progress to Unsupported)
The reverse lunge (Slideboard or Dumbell) is a great way to start for most athletes but we want to progress to unsupported single leg such as single leg squats and rear foot elevated split squats. Some simple progressions I have learned are…
- Dumbbells by sides
- Front Squat Grip
- Back Squat Grip
Other considerations would be to start with dumbbells by the sides and work your way “up.”
- DB or KB by sides
- DB or KB in “rack” position on shoulders
- DB or KB in overhead position
Using Linear and Lateral Hurdle Hops
Various hurdle hops variations are a great way to teach deceleration which when we look at functional anatomy of the lower body is critical to injury prevention (not just the groins but everything). The adductors, gluteals, quads, hamstrings all act to decelerate upon landing and accelerate to propel us forward. So why not improve single leg landing to prevent injury and improve performance?!
Core Stability Patterns: All of these patterns are important to put our bodies into a good position to improve the function of our core. The following are all movements that I believe are necessary and produce great results. They also prevent motion at the hips (hip+core stability which is a major factor in preventing injury).
- Diagonal Patterns: 1/2 kneeling chops and lifts
- Anti-Rotation: Belly presses
- Anti-Extension: Stability Ball Rollouts (front plank progression)
These few ideas are part of the “whole” of an approach to preventing groin issues. Nonetheless, a great way to start!