With the repetitive demands of freestyle football, many freestylers at some point experience tightness, niggles and injury in the muscles around the groin. This article following on from yesterday's will provide you with a course of action to make these more of a thing of the past.
The bottom line is that these muscles are often overactive. If you touch the muscles of the front of your upper leg now, unless you are intentionally doing something using them, they will be fairly soft. If you then take your hand to feel around the muscles of your inner thigh, you may find that these muscles are harder and more tender to touch. This is nothing to do with their strength as your quads at the front of your thigh are much stronger and yet are soft. They are overactive.
You have no doubt tried to reduce the tone of these muscles before through stretching. Stretching may have provided temporary relief before the area hardened again. What is going on here?
The brain is overusing these muscles because some muscles somewhere else have went offline at some point. Maybe you got injured or took a knock in your past and to keep you going, your nervous system cleverly redirected activity from the injured site to your groin muscles so that you could keep going and even after the injury, this pattern remained. Who knows?
What I do know and what I hope you will know by the end of this article is how you may be able to go about resetting any such over/underactivity balances.
The muscles we are talking about bring the thigh in towards the other thigh (sideways movement) and bring the leg up towards the abdomen (forwards movement). Generally speaking, this could mean that they are picking up the slack for other muscles that are responsible for sideways or forwards movement.
Let's think of the muscles of your body that are responsible for some sort of sideways movement. The neck can bend sideways, the arm can sideways, the obliques can bend your spine sideways, the muscles around the outside of your hip move your leg out sideways away from your other leg and your ankle can move sideways.
Are any of your sideways muscles underactive? The way to find out is to test them with a short, easy isometric hold that should use them. Let's use the muscles of the outside of the hip as an example. To test these, you would lay on your side and lift your top leg up away from your bottom leg holding it in the top position for five seconds. To find out if this muscle is underactive, you can pay attention to the following:
Can you do the movement?
Do you have to change your breathing to do the movement?
Do you shake as you make the movement or hold it?
Do you feel another muscle elsewhere contracting to help you?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the odds are this muscle is at least somewhat underactive.
To check if your groin muscles overactivity are interfering with its function, contract your groin muscles hard for five seconds and then repeat the weak muscle test. If it has became easier, this shows you that the groin is interfering with this muscle's function.
When you find the overactive/underactive pair, here is what you do:
Static stretch the overactive muscle for 60 seconds. This will temporarily reduce its activity.
Immediately increase the activity of the underactive muscle by using it to perform a 10 second isometric hold.
For example, somebody has a tight, painful groin and a neck that is underactive on one side. They stretch their groin for 60 seconds and then activate the neck muscles on the underactive side for 10 seconds. Over time (sometimes quickly), this will change the relationship between these muscles and the groin will be able to loosen as the neck becomes more active.
Deactivate the overactive muscles with a long stretch. Activate the underactive muscle with a short hold. Repeat regularly.
Finding these overactive/underactive relationships by yourself does take effort but is doable and will reward you in the long run.
With the groin also bringing the leg towards the torso, it is also worth checking the activity of the other muscles that do this (the hip flexors) and the muscles of the abdomen and neck that help bring the torso towards the leg.
The Float Sting service is here should you ever want to employ me to help you through such issues but I know you freestylers are an independent species who can do lots for yourselves. I hope this can help you build healthy hips so you can keep dazzling old-schoolers like me!