In sports such as Soccer, Football and Cross-Country Running, demands on the groin muscles are high due to the fast pace, constant change and unstable surface (and obviously kicking a ball).
Forces Affecting the Groin
Acceleration and Deceleration
When speeding up or taking off to chase after the ball, the groin muscle has to work hard to hold the hip in “mid” position so that the hamstring and glute muscles can work as effectively as possible to get you going faster. They do a similar thing when you have to slow down quickly. This is the muscle working as a stabiliser. If you take off and you are moving sideways, the groin muscle has to work to directly increase the speed of your leg which is the muscle working as a prime mover. If it is slowing you down to the side the muscle has to slow the movement of the leg – like lowering something to the ground slowly – which is the muscle working “eccentrically.” This is the hardest work the muscle can do as the muscle has to be on and is stretching at the same time.
Change of Direction
Slowing down and speeding up is one thing but if you are twisting as you move, this puts extra stress is put on the groin as it needs to do many jobs at once. It has to work as a prime mover or eccentrically to push you into the right direction whilst pulling you back into a “mid” position to stabilise you to to run efficiently. The more frequently and the larger the direction change, the more force the groin is needing to produce and control.
When you step on unsteady ground, the groin needs to work as a stabiliser to keep you upright and moving in he right direction. The more unstable the surface, for example gravel or sand, or the more uneven, for example fields with lots of holes, the harder these muscles have to work.
Kicking the ball
This is the most obvious. This is where the muscle works as a prime mover to move the ball! It also needs to work as a stabiliser to have your leg swing in the right direction to hit the ball.
So as you can see, the groin has a lot to deal with during our winter sports. It needs to produce and control power and stabilise the joint -sometimes, all at the same time! No wonder it’s such a common place for injuries!
How to Avoid Injuries
Be prepared before the season starts
This means being fit! Start running in the pre-season and build up slowly. It’s not a great idea to just turn up to the first event and go all out!
Other ways to be prepare before the season starts includes doing an exercise program. At the bottom you can find some general groin exercises. If you feel you need something more individualised, get in contact with us!
Warm up properly
Fifa have done a fantastic job at creating an injury prevention warm up that has been scientifically proven to work! If you want a copy of the full warm up, head to our facebook page or send us an email!
A good warm up includes a jog, active stretches, specific exercises that stress the muscles that are about to be used and some faster sprints, or change of direction runs.
We can help you get prepared by assessing the stability, strength and coordination of movement around the hips, specifically for you sport and creating an individualised plan to keep you injury free!