The groin. It’s where your inner thigh connects to your pelvis. And it’s most assuredly not a joyous feeling when it’s injured. It certainly hasn’t been a joy for one of my students who approached me about it recently. He said he strained a groin-area muscle in his right leg while doing Triangle pose in another class with another teacher. Now, each time he re-attempts Triangle, the pain reminds him naggingly that it’s still there. He described the muscle believed to be afflicted as the one that feels like it goes straight up and down on the inner thigh, from the pelvis to the knee. Signs point to the gracilis as a possible culprit.
The gracilis belongs to the Adductor Magnus group, located on the inner thigh, which adducts or draws the legs together. the primary function of which is to carry the legs backwards and toward the conceptual vertical midline of the body. It’s like an inner-thigh version of the iliotibial band, or IT band, a tract of tissue – but not a muscle – covering the majority of the outer thigh, from the hip to the knee. Both the inner thigh muscles and the IT band are regions that are rarely trouble-free. I have a triathlete student whose outer thighs are about as flexible as granite countertops. Consequently, she finds tremendous displeasure in Twisted Triangle. To further complicate matters of mobility, tightness in the hamstrings can impact the suppleness in the sides of the legs, and vice versa. If any of these areas are exceptionally bound, it can produce trouble for your Triangles.
Several scenarios suggest what could be happening with my student with groin discomfort:
- His outer thigh is atypically strong and overworked, whereas his inner thigh is weak and underdeveloped.
- He has rigidity in the fascia, particularly in the lower back and hamstring region. Fascia is connective tissue that can be described as anatomical plastic wrap in and around the muscles. A primary sheath of it covers virtually the entire back side of the body, starting just above the eyebrows, wrapping over the head and going all the way down into the feet. So, it’s possible that something is very tight in the back side of his body, preventing loose movement in the groin and around the legs.
- His right hip flexor could also be locked up. The primary hip flexor, called the iliopsoas (or psoas, for short), is attached to the inner thigh, pelvis and lower spinal bones. However, this possibility doesn’t seem as likely, because the hip flexor’s spinal attachments don’t seem to be pulling his back into an overly rounded position.
- Finally, he just could have become excited at the thought of Triangle pose and leaned over in a momentum-based movement that exerted just enough force to cause a strain.
If you are suffering a similar predicament, try the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to roll out your lower back, gluteal muscles and hamstrings, which could help relinquish some of the nervous system’s grip on your inner thighs. But, I would not recommend attempting to roll out your inner thighs; there is tender vasculature there that shouldn’t be subjected to deep pressure.
To fortify as well as loosen your whole hip region dynamically in preparation for Triangle or Twisted Triangle, try the Half Happy Baby Minivini (video demonstration coming next week). Not only is it fun to say, it’s fun to do. It also feels great. It takes your legs and hips through many ranges of motion, a perfect way to prime yourself for standing postures. One time, I had students do this, then Triangle pose shortly thereafter. An enthusiastic lady approached me following class to report that she was able to lean over and go deeper than she ever had in Triangle. In the event that a tight or possibly weak hip flexor is to blame for Triangle troubles, try my variation of the Psoas Spiral (video demonstration also coming next week). Here’s hoping these tips work for you, too.
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