Tackle Tight Groin Muscles with These Exercises
No one ever wants to talk about the groin unless of course, you just strained it or it feels like steel cables 24/7.
The groin (aka your inner thighs, aka your adductor muscles) typically get zero love at the gym unless you’re doing the seated leg machine where you close your thighs together. But if you want to get those muscles to finally let up, or you just want to make sure they don’t explode the next time you’re having fun playing sports, keep reading because I’m going to show you the easiest way to get your tight groin muscles to loosen up.
WHAT DOES A TIGHT GROIN FEEL LIKE?
This may seem like an obvious question, but there are levels to what people are experiencing. You might just feel tight in your inner thighs when doing a side lunge stretch and think “Wow, I’m always tight here” and then you get on with your day.
On the flip side, it could be a bit more severe like feeling your groin muscles knotted up while walking, running, or by crossing your legs when sitting.
Regardless of when you feel tightness in your groin muscles, both of these should be a warning sign that it’s time to give this area some attention.
WHERE ARE THE GROIN MUSLES?
We have several groin muscles bunched together and typically call them the adductors. I won’t go deep into this, but just know the major groin muscles start deep inside where your hip bones connect to the pelvis and run all the way down to your knee.
Besides feeling them when you close your legs (that’t their main function), you’ll also feel them when lifting your knee to your chest, and also when driving your leg backwards. So basically, if you want to run, jump, and cut, your adductors need to be on point.
WHAT CAUSES TIGHT GROIN MUSCLES?
Be honest with me, when was the last time you specifically trained your adductors? Now imagine, we sit and walk around with our legs almost never getting wider than 3-4 inches. Then we go to squat with wide knees, or do sumo deadlifts, lunges, or even do a sudden change of direction while playing a sport. What do you think is going to happen to these unused muscles?
If you don’t place yourself in a certain range of motion on a regular basis, as well as actually use that range of motion, the muscles will inevitably get weak and tight. So if you’ve never trained with your thighs apart in that lengthened position, how do you expect to be safe when you go there suddenly?
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE A TIGHT GROIN
When something is tight or a little achey, most people think they should immediately start stretching it to death. Stretching isn’t necessarily bad, but stretching alone is not going to make that sensation go away. And, if it’s painful, stretching into that uncomfortable position could make it worse.
We all tend to think that if the stretch doesn’t hurt, we’re not doing enough but it’s the opposite. Stretching into pain or discomfort will not get you where you want to go any faster because the stimulus will be too great for the nervous system to handle and the body will actually increase the tightness and pain.
Another popular solution to relieve tight groin muscles is to start foam rolling, lacrosse ball smashing, or taking a massage gun to your inner thighs. I see this literally everyday where I work, but all of these are temporary solutions. They’ll cause the tissue to relax for a little bit, but you’re not changing the strength of the tissue. I go into more detail on why these methods don’t work in this blog: Myth Busting: Fixes for Tight Muscles or Knots.
HOW TO GET RID OF A TIGHT GROIN
When it comes to your groin, or any tissue that is “tight”, the key to relaxing the tissue is strengthening the muscles in their lengthened state. This is the piece that most are missing. Training this specific way will make your nervous system (the guy driving the bus) feel safe and resilient, and in turn will remove that feeling of tightness you’re always dealing with.
We use isometric contractions as our secret weapon for training tissue in their lengthened state. Make that tight groin a thing of the past with the following steps:
Place the inner thigh tissue in a stretched position without causing any pain or discomfort. Being pain-free is non-negotiable.
Once you've spent a at least 60 seconds to 2 minutes in the stretch, stay in this position and start to get stronger in this range of motion.
Ready to give it a try? Keep reading for my favorite exercise to relieve tight groin muscles.
THE BEST EXERCISES TO RELIEVE TIGHT GROIN MUSCLES
The first exercise in the video below is called Frog Pose PAILs and RAILs. Frog Pose is the name of the position, because you look like a frog. PAILs and RAILs is simply the sequence of holding the stretch for 2 minutes, and then doing two different sets of isometrics for time, then finishing up with another 2 minutes of stretching.
This setup is perfect for stretching and strengthening the groin tissues because of its unique positioning of the hips, knees, and lower back. If you’ve never tried this before, be conservative in how deep you go into the stretch. I would suggest staying around a 5 out of 10 intensity the first few times you try this out for both the stretch and the isometrics. Keep your total time for the isometrics at 20 seconds as well.
Use the following sequence:
Stretch for 2 minutes
Drive knees down for 20 seconds
Attempt to pick knees up for 20 seconds
Relax back into the stretch for 30 seconds
Repeat both isometrics again
Sit in original stretch for 2 more minutes
Compensations to Avoid:
Don’t let your pelvis rotate or move too much
Try not to move your spine
MY FAVORITE EXERCISES TO RELIEVE TIGHT GROIN MUSCLES
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Continue to build strength around your groin muscles and join me for the Healthy Hips 10 Day Challenge to help you unlock your tight, sticky hips (and groin muscles!) in less than 10 minutes a day.
You’ll get the exact system I use to target the most essential areas of the hip (I call this the “Hip Hierarchy”), full coaching on how to assess your hips, and a full plan with exercises for how to unlock those hips.
Beginners to advanced movers welcome! Click the image below to check it out and I’ll see you on the inside!
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified