One of my yoga teacher’s is like the Seinfeld of vinyasa. In between deep breath work and ooey-gooey poses, he’ll drop one-liners that make me belly laugh mid-downward facing dog. And during a Sunday morning class not too long ago, he called the groin—and I quote—”the deep, dark dungeon of the body.”
The whole class snickered, but what the instructor dropped was indeed a truth bomb. Hips and IT bands get all the attention for being extra tight, but the area between your thighs? Er, not so much. “Anatomically, the ‘groin’ refers to the area between the abdomen and upper thigh around the pubic bone containing various adductor muscles,” explains Jeff Brannigan, director of programming at New York City’s Stretch*d. “These are muscles that connect at the base of the pelvis and extend along the inside of the thigh.”
He’s in agreement with my teacher—this part of the body tends to get overlooked. A travesty, really, considering that the groin does a whole lot of leg work (literally) to help you do just about everything—from sitting up straight between the hours of nine to five to going hard in a HIIT class.
“Allowing [the groin] muscles to become tense or tight will compromise movement of the hip and leg, increasing tension on the joints and increasing chance of injury.” —Jeff Brannigan
“Coupling long hours at a desk and strenuous activity without time for recovery is a recipe for disaster,” warns the stretching expert. Like discounting the health of any part of your body, Brannigan says that ignoring your groin could come with consequences. Specifically, a too-tight groin could bring pain to both the lower back and the knees.
“Allowing these muscles to become tense or tight will compromise movement of the hip and leg, increasing tension on the joints and increasing chance of injury,” he warns. Sorry for the impending visual, but it’s time to bust down the dungeon doors and release the dragons, er, tight muscles.
To do so, Brannigan recommends trying out a Stretch*d go-to move called “The Side Sweep*r,” which just requires a standard stretching band you’d find at almost any yoga studio. “All stretches should be done in short, controlled active repetitions,” he instructs. In this case, hold the move for just two to three seconds, return to a neutral position, then repeat. “This will help to pump blood into the area and allow the muscle to relax as it lengthens,” he says.
Ready to give it a try? Go for the “The Side Sweep*r” groin stretch.
1. Lie down on your back with a strap and place one foot into the loop.
2. Wrap the strap around the inside of your ankle so that it candy-stripes up your calf and points outward from your thigh.
3. Extend the leg to the side, gripping the band firmly (but not too firmly!) at your torso.
4. Hold for two to three counts then gently return your leg back to neutral and repeat.
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