I had an opportunity to contribute to a friend’s webmagazine (hurdlesfirstbeta.com) the other day in regards to “groin” strains. There are many ways that people look at it, but it is a reminder of how each body part works in unison with each other.
The “groin” is a catch-all term, referring to five muscles in the inside of the thigh. Their major function is to bring the leg towards the midline of the body (adduction). Injuries to these muscles are usually due to these muscles doing more than they can handle, as a large component of their activity is postural in nature (keep the body upright). This excessive activity is due to muscular imbalances and faulty body positioning elsewhere in the body.
Tight hip flexor musculature (lifting the leg and thigh up at the hip) is something I find all too common with patients, specifically the iliopsoas muscle group). This can be created by prolonged sitting, bad postural (forward lean) when walking and of course, the dreaded high heel shoegear. These can all make for an overworked iliopsoas group, which causes it to become tight.
Two muscles that make up the “groin” have a lesser function in hip flexion also. If the iliopsoas is not able to perform its usual function, these muscles become the primary hip flexors. This increases its muscular activity, making it more prone to strain/injury.
Another result of an overworked/tight iliopsoas muscle group would be its effect on the pelvic bone. Because of their attachment to the pelvis, its tightness causes the pelvis to tilt, lengthening some other muscles attached to the bone, i.e., the hamstrings (muscles at the back of your thigh). The hamstrings changes from a primarily postural muscle to a hip extender (bringing your hip and thigh down), as the gluteal muscles (“butt” muscles) loses this role and its resultant strength via pelvic positioning. In addition to the hamstrings, three other muscles of the “groin” become hip extenders. These muscles are prone to become overworked, due to their increased activity.
Treatment of “groin” injuries involve the usual rest, compression and elevation. But the emphasis should be on not forcing these muscles to be overworked. Hip flexor stretching, along with soft tissue release can help with the tight iliopsoas muscles, in addition to flatter shoes, more erect posture when walking and lesser sitting. Abdominal exercises will help tilt the pelvis properly; variety is the key (the regular crunches do not work the right muscles and are not recommended). Lastly, exercises that focus on the gluteal muscles will help it regain some of its strength, i.e., Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, Hip thrusts.
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Health and happiness!
As I look for ways to help reduce health care costs, I have looked at things such as nutrition and exercise. It is all fine and good to say, “Eat better”, and “Exercise more”, but the questions really should be, “What types of food?” and “What type of exercise?” Since I am not a nutritionist, I will not delve into that subject of food, but I have a more in-depth perspective of exercise. The more I think about how I train athletes, the more I realize that the entire population can benefit from the same exercise too!
The athletes I currently train are trying to achieve a goal, i.e., to run a certain distance as far as possible. How is that achieved? By working on their speed, strength, power ( a combination of speed and strength) and coordination/balance. I could argue that anyone can be defined as an athlete, because they too are trying to achieve a goal, i.e., walk downstairs, open a can, climb a ladder. All tasks require a degree of speed, strength, power and coordination. So it behooves everyone to try to maximize these skills for daily lives.
The question still remains, “What type of exercise?” My answer would be one that promotes speed, strength, power and coordination, that is resistance training. Resistance training does not necessarily mean only lifting heavy barbells, but includes dumbbells, elastic bands, such as Rubberbanditz, and medicine balls, anything that provides resistance to normal motion. Of course, this is not the only exercise, but things like core exercises and jogging/walking should be seen as RECOVERY from resistance training. Resistance training should always be primary in anyone’s bid to maximize their natural abilities (especially with our muscle-weakening desk jobs and shoegear wear) and prevent injuries.
Athletes have been training this way for decades; it only makes sense for everyone to share in this knowledge to become fitter and healthier human beings.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions as I continue to expand this concept in upcoming blogs.
Health and happiness!
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