After experiencing, for the first time in my career, an athlete with a repeated groin injury. ***I understand groin injuries to be common, but honestly I'd not ever encountered many!*** I became obsessed with understanding the mechanisms for why this happened. As with most things with the body (biomechanically speaking), once you understand where one piece of the puzzle fits, the rest of the pieces fall into place.
In the old days of physical therapy, athletic training, and strength/conditioning, an injured muscle = a weak muscle. Identify the injured/weak muscle and strengthen it. Period.
Once the pain went away, the advice from trainers and PT's was usually to keep stretching "the area is tight (oh, and weak, so keep strengthening too)." And the athlete would get sent back to S&C for continued strengthening of the weakened area and return to sport performance training.
Unfortunately, more often that I'd like to count, the injury returned. Time and time again. The outlook for injured athletes, always seemed bleak. It always seemed this would be a nagging issue, no matter the severity.
Fortunately, we know better now - the olden days of working on strengthening injured muscles and looking no where else for dysfunction is over! Just kidding, this is still how most PT's and AT's approach injury.
Back to my injured athlete, after taking a look at her stride, I noticed a very significant hip drop. And a hip drop, boys and girls, is a prerequisite for a groin strain.
Now I knew where to get started. Getting the hips even in striding motions would be the solution. But, wait, there was something else needing attention first! In a previous post, I've called it Priority #1, check it out to understand how the zone of apposition must be corrected before moving into a prehab/rehab protocol.
Once the breathing patterns and rib positioning were improved, we were able to move on to working on preventing another strain.
Below I've got a couple samples of some of the drills we used. But no matter the actual drill, the theme here, and non-negotiable, was hip evenness. That was the main goal. Everything we did must come with even hips. Hips not even after cueing? Okay, that's fine, let's adjust the range of motion. So, as you look at the videos, please remember hip stability, control, and evenness are the top priority for an athlete when groin strain prehab/rehab are on the menu!
The Single Leg Stance Series is a good option for someone who is recently out of their rehab protocol or can be easily used for a very specific warm-up to improve hip proprioception and and understanding of the relationship your foot has with the ground.
Performance Injury Prevention
For a healthy athlete, this Groin Series gets a lot accomplished in just 3 movements. This series would NOT be appropriate for someone who is still in a weakened state. Rather, save this for when you've worked back to full health and strength and are looking to keep another groin injury at bay.
Groin injuries don't seem to get a lot of attention, but I think they should. Try a full speed deceleration, change of direction, or even acceleration the next time you've got one!