Before I in delve into today’s subject that is the groin pain epidemic, I want to make a short side note. I just finished reading the Hero Handbook by Nate Green yesterday, and I must say that it is one of the most inspiring thing I’ve read in a while. Nate talks about how to become your own hero through your lifestyle, your mindset, your training and your nutrition. It is a very quick read, it’s 136 pages and the characters are big, so you should be able to read it in less than an hour. And the best thing of all (which I still can’t believe) is that Nate gives the e-book for FREE on his website! All you have to do is go to Nate’s website and download it. As simple as that; no tricks, no signing up for anything, nothing! It doesn’t get any easier than this. Do yourself a favor and read the Hero Handbook RIGHT NOW!!
As for today’s subject…Groin pain, adductor strains and sports hernias are becoming an epidemic among athletes today, and especially among hockey players. Playing the same sport year-round, poor training protocols (or simply no training at all), over-training and faulty movement patterns are all perfect set-ups for groin pain, especially for hockey players because of the nature of the sport.
Before I go any further with my recommendations, I will say this: it is very important to clear out any other possible underlying issues in the first place. Groin pain may be caused, for example, by Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI), which would warrant the subject of a whole book in itself. In short FAI is an abnormality (usually a bony lesion) on either the femoral head or the acetabulum itself that creates impingement and may translate into groin pain. But I digress. What I’m saying is to get checked out first to make sure the issue is not coming from somewhere else.
- The first step to take with groin pain problem is to stay away from anything that hurts for a little while. If you’re a hockey player and have some groin pain while skating, the first step to take is to stop skating, and I mean completely. I know it sucks being forced to stay away playing, but this is a necessary process to follow, and it will all be worth it in the long run. If you think the injury is not that bad and you’re just going to suck it up and keep playing until it goes away, it’s a BIG mistake. First of all, groin pain, groin pulls and adductor injuries don’t magically disappear, especially if you keep doing the same thing that’s been causing the pain (skating, in this case), and first thing you know is the pain is going to get worse and worse and you’ll have to suffer for months. So as much as it sucks, you need to take that time off.
- Foam roll your adductors and your hip flexors. Most of the time, athletes will have scar tissue built up in their adductors and some kind of soft tissue limitation in their hip flexors.
- Stretch your hip flexors, glutes and hip external rotators. Because of the nature of a sport like hockey (repeated hip extension, abduction and external rotation), athletes will have a loss in adduction and internal rotation, as well as hip extension range of motion.
- Strengthen the adductors and the psoas, which is usually the weakest of the 3 hip flexors. These 2 muscles usually are very weak because they are underutilized in different sporting motions, especially the skating stride.
Using this approach, you want to make sure to use these strategies at least twice a day, everyday (foam rolling, stretching and activation drills). We’ve had hockey players (and many of them) with pretty bad groin pain getting back on the ice totally pain-free in as little as 2 weeks after they start applying those exact recommendations. The key is really just to stay away from anything that hurts and be consistent with the exercises, and chances are you’ll be back on the ice (or the field) in no time.
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