Groin stretching exercises are important for injury rehabilitation and prevention. Groin stretches should also form part of your warm up.
The groin muscles
The five groin or adductor muscles are the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectinius and gracilis. Their main function is adduction of the femur. In other words they pull the leg inwards.
Four of the adduction muscles are known as the short adductors. They attach to the femur (thigh bone) above the knee. Therefore you can stretch them with your knee bent. The gracilis however, attaches to the tibia (shin bone) below the knee. As a result, to stretch it your leg should be straight.
Static groin stretches
These groin stretching exercises involve very little movement, hence the name static stretching. You should aim to gentle ease into the stretch and hold it. It is important to stay relaxed. Groin stretching exercises should not be painful.
The groin muscles are quite fragile so always perform stretching pain-free. If it hurts then stop. If you have suffered a groin strain then avoid stretching in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Short adductor stretches
These groin stretches are performed with knees bent to target the short adductor muscles.
- Gently press down with the elbows onto the knees to increase the stretch.
- Relax into the stretch
- You should feel a gentle stretch in the inner thigh
- Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times
Long adductor stretching
Straight leg groin stretches also target the gracilis muscle which attaches below the knee.
Straight leg standing groin stretches
Stand with your feet wide apart. Lean away from the side you are stretching. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times a day. Change the angle of your foot on the floor stretches different parts of the groin muscles.
Seated groin stretches
This is a more relaxed way of taking the load off the muscle whilst stretching. Ease into the position and hold. Increase the stretch by widening your legs and leaning forwards.
Hip flexor stretches
Although strictly not one of the groin stretches this exercise is still important. The adductor muscle assists in flexion of the hip (pulling the knee forwards and upwards). This stretches the adductor muscles specifically in the direction they are used when running
Hip flexor stretch on a bench
Lie on a bench or massage table and allow your legs to hang naturally over the edge. Pull one knee up to your chest and hold. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times a day.
Ideally your thigh should be horizontal with your lower leg hanging vertically. If your thigh points upwards this could indicate tight hip flexor muscles. If you lower leg does not hang vertically this may indicate tight quadricep (thigh) muscles.
Dynamic groin stretches
These exercises involve movement. The are popular for groin strain rehabilitation as well as warming up.
Take the leg to be stretched out as far as comfortable then back across the body. Keep the action smooth and do not force it. Perform between 8 and 10 repetitions. This is used as part of our full Groin strain rehabilitation program. If you are doing this as part of your per exercise warm up then you can be a little more dynamic.