24 Dec Bulletproof the Groin Protocol
By Andrew Serrano
Something I’ve dealt with personally, and seen in many clients, is poor hip mobility and groin pain due to an overly tight and immobile adductor group. Powerlifters are especially prone to this since the adductors not only adduct the hip but they are also very powerful extensors of the hip. People tend to overlook just how much they are involved in both the deadlift and squat and the fact that the adductor magnus alone is largest lower body muscle after the glutes. To complicate things further for the average lifter, good adductor function is associated with good lateral stability (anti-lateral flexion e.g. side planks) and plane of motion gets the least amount of stimulus during the Big 3 lifts.
To mitigate this deficit created by only deadlifting and squatting in one plane, good warm-up selection and accessory work are paramount to avoiding issues with the groin. Poor groin health can be associated with lower back pain, hip pain, and SI joint discomfort, the last one I’m very familiar with. Luckily, rectifying this can be as simple as adding a few drills to the warm-up and the accessory portion of your session and developing them over time.
The specific drills are less important than the principles that guide them, I’ve included the drills I personally use the most but there may be others that work better for you individually. As long as the primary adaptation is the same and you cover all these bases you should be able to achieve good results.
Soft Tissue Work/Reduce Muscular Tone In Adductors
If your groin is really tight and nasty, dropping right into a Cossack squat probably isn’t the best idea. I like to use a soft ball sitting on a bench to do some soft tissue work first and get the area to calm down a bit.
Mobility Drills Both Passive and Active
Once the area is more relaxed and not so reactive, we can start to stretch. Passive stretching is good but you must also contract into the stretch for the best results. A basic PNF protocol of ten second contractions followed by ten seconds rest for 4-6 repetitions is a good start.
This is interchangeable with number 2 as they both feed off each other, and sometimes alternating the two for several rounds will yield the best results. We want the entire core active but want to focus on anti-lateral flexion and anti-rotation the most.
Last we want to integrate the first three steps into an active drill. Your basic side lunge will work just fine, I like to load it offset to also challenge lateral stability a bit more, but you can experiment with different load variations and implements. Make sure to focus on developing eccentric strength.
As far as implementing these into your routine, there’s many options. Depending on how tight your groin is you may even run through some of these outside of your sessions. You can start with adding one round of each to your warm up, and then adding several more sets of a core exercise and an integrated drill to the end of your session during the accessory portion. Taking care of the groin won’t just help prevent some common lifting injuries, it’ll also increase your lifts since they are such powerful but forgotten contributors to the lower body lifts. The groin needs to be able to lengthen efficiently and also be able to produce force in that lengthened position. Even though our sport is in the sagittal plane, being able to move through all the others has very important implications for the major lifts.