You may be well aware of the soreness you feel in your adductor muscles (muscles on the inside of your thigh that run up to your groin) the day after your first run back from your exercise hiatus, or after your first session back on the pitch after the summer off-season, having a crack at some Ronaldo-esque free-kicks from outside the box and around the corner. But why? And why do these muscles contribute to ongoing groin pain in the athletic (amateur and professional) population all too often?
The answer is (as it is frustratingly with a lot of things when it comes to the human body)….it’s complicated. However, I will (try to) talk about a few mechanical reasons why, and more importantly give a few tips on how to manage this pain (or help prevent it coming on in the first place).
What are my adductors?
Your adductor muscles are a group of five muscles that sit between your pelvis and the inside of your thigh. Their main function is to help stabilise the pelvis and transmit force through the body during running, twisting, kicking and multidirectional activities.
Why do they hurt?
Adductor and/or groin pain can be a result of an acute episode resulting in a muscle strain, or chronic overload causing pain in the adductor tendons where they insert to the pelvis (up near the groin). It is also common that an acute strain can lead to ongoing pain due to adapted poor mechanics and compensations. The adductor muscles (as previously mentioned) are responsible for a large amount of force production, transmission and attenuation, they are however in a sense dealt a short straw with very poor mechanical advantage to complete what is required of them due to where they attach on the pelvis and down the thigh. They are therefore extremely susceptible to overload and/or injury especially with spikes of more intense physical activity after periods of rest or deconditioning; as low-level physical activity (walking, slow steady-state jogging, sitting etc.) asks very little of this muscle group.
Without getting too deep into the science and kinematics of human movement, there are also other factors which can contribute to extra load being placed through the adductors. These include poor core abdominal strength, poor low-back mobility, poor hip mobility, tight hip-flexors and hamstrings.
The last, and probably most important contributing factor to injury and overload is having weak adductors. These aren’t a muscle group usually targeted in a routine gym regimen, and unless we are challenging them with intense running and change of direction on a consistent basis, they are extremely susceptible to detraining.
What can I do about it?
Being such a complicated issue with many potential contributing factors, there is somewhat of a silver lining; there are plenty of areas we can assess and address when it comes to both rehabilitation and prevention of adductor-related issues. When seeing your physio about this issue, and once a wide range of other causes for pain in the groin have been ruled out, you will need to look at:
1) Adductor strength
2) Hip mobility
3) Lumbar spine mobility
4) Lumbopelvic (hips and low back) control
5) Flexibility (especially hip flexors and hamstrings)
6) Training load (extremely important at the beginning of pre-season)
From here we can provide a tailored program consisting of appropriate mobility, stability and strengthening exercises that will help get you back on the park, performing well, and giving you the best chance possible at remaining on the park pain-free!
#loveyourlife #groinpain #performance #physio