Seated Groin Stretch: A Key Exercise for Hip Health and Flexibility
A stretch that takes me back to memory lane and one I so dreaded from my Jiu-jitsu and grade school physical education days (But didn’t need as much as I do today) but now appreciate as I realize youth won’t make us invincible forever. The seated groin stretch, aka butterfly pose, or (Baddha konasana in yoga terms) is a basic inner thigh, hip muscle opener that stretches and releases tension throughout the body. Sitting on your rump all day is fine as a kid but adulthood is less forgiving on the human anatomy, and unless you want to be like the Tin Man and dig yourself a deeper hole, well, let’s just say groin stretches combined with regular activity shouldn’t be optional.
Trust me, sitting and writing these guides rears its ugly head if I don’t create balance with my daily activities. Healthy hips and adductors (Muscles that pull the legs inward) are vital for every day, multidirectional movement patterns, optimal physical performance, well-being, longevity, injury reduction, and just walking around pain-free. Bonus benefit: Increase your groin flexibility and deepen your lotus pose padmasana and variations too! Now let’s master this basic essential stretch!
How To Do The Seated Groin Stretch
While the traditional unassisted seated groin stretch can be done safely and effectively, today we want to offer you a potentially safer, less painful, and still effective version that you can still use to progress and increase hip flexibility.
1. Grab two same size pillows and sit on a comfortable but firm surface (Exercise mat, carpet, or gym flooring).
2. Fold the pillows in half and wedge them under your butt bones on each side.
3. Allow your legs to relax into the pillows, sit tall, lengthen your spine and focus on slow breathing.
4. If needed, gently press down into your legs to deepen the stretch.
5. You’ll know you’re doing it right if you feel a stretch on the entire inside of your thighs.
6. Don’t worry so much about the seconds. Relax in the position and let your body loosen up.
7. Watch a demonstration of this safer groin stretch technique.
– Always warm up the target muscles with light physical activity before any stretching routine. This ensures that your muscles are pliable, and prevents injuries.
– You can also wedge yoga blocks under your legs to raise the knees, similar to how pillows are used in the video included above.
– Ideally, you’ll be able to lean your upper body forward to enhance the stretch. However, it is optional and you can still stretch your adductors really well while remaining upright during the exercise.
Muscles Involved In Seated Groin Stretch
Just be clear, groin stretches are not a muscle-building or strengthening technique. It’s merely used for the benefits of stretching several muscles and unlocking tight hips, which are essential to body health and function. Now let’s talk about the muscles of focus in this pose.
Seated Groin Stretch Adductors
The adductor muscles create the sexy shape of your inner thighs, especially if you don’t skip leg day or are just genetically blessed with good legs. But more importantly, adductors are several muscles that primarily swing the leg inward towards the center of your body. These muscles are:
– Adductor longus
– Adductor Brevis
– Adductor Magnus
– Adductor Minimus
– Obturator externus
Well equipped for strong medial thigh movement, adductors extend from part of the pelvis down to the tibial aspect of your leg. Other roles of adductors are stabilizing the pelvis during standing movements, lateral rotation of the thigh, flexion and extension of the thigh, and the gracilis can help flex the knee.
In This Exercise:
– Target muscle group: Adductors
– Type: Stretch, muscle health
– Mechanics: Isolation
– Equipment: Exercise mat and two same size pillows (Optional)
– Difficulty: Intermediate
Benefits of Seated Groin Stretch
You can expect a diverse range of benefits from stretching your hips which we discuss below.
Crack the code for your hip issues
While groin stretches are not enough to benefit your entire hip structure and function, they help maintain optimal muscle health in the important groin and inner thigh area. Plus, as mentioned, adductors contribute to thigh extension and flexion, as well as knee flexion. So there are several telltale signs of tight hip adductors:
– Pain in the inner hips, groin, knees, and back, and when you abduct the leg
– On and off discomfort in your inner legs
– Lack of mobility or stiffness in hips
– Muscle weakness
– Limping when walking
– One side of the hip bothers you
– Groin pulls
– Legs bow out when doing squats, etc
Now, most people won’t be immobilized by hip tightness, and they can still move around. But it typically causes nagging discomfort. A proper stretching and movement regime can reverse that.
Stay in the game
According to research, hip and groin injuries often result in significant time sidelined from sporting activities (1). While physical traumas are often inevitable due to athletic physical demands, stretching helps to keep the muscles and joints flexible, mobile, loose, and more resilient to potential injuries.
Supports balanced hips and movement
When any muscle is tight it can affect your movement. After all, did you know that the muscles pull your joints to cause different limb movement? Tense hip muscles can cause functional imbalances, movement asymmetries, uneven gait (Walking) patterns, and more. Just like sitting too long, and bad posture have negative consequences. It’s the same concept.
Stretching your muscles is not only physical, but it’s one of the most convenient techniques for mental relaxation too. Akin to how weight training releases stress and pumps those endorphins, lengthening your muscles releases tension which gives immediate relief, and that “feel good” effect.
Common Mistakes During Groin Stretch
There’s so much room for error in an exercise like the groin stretch. From forcing the knees down to crappy posture, you’ll be hurting more than improving yourself. Avoid these bad form habits.
Sitting in the pain
Assuming this would be an issue mostly for newbies attempting the traditional groin stretch technique, don’t stay in the position if it feels painful. Discomfort is one thing but pain is another.