I have struggled with a painful adductor muscle for around 5 years, and it has, at times, been excruciating. Eventually, I visited the doctor, who sent me for a hip x-ray (no mention of the adductor muscle). Happily, there was nothing wrong with my hip and the situation was left there… although the pain continued.
I started taking Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), and they actually helped, but the pain and discomfort continued to keep me awake at night, and my hip/groin area would often suddenly ‘lock’. I battled through it, walking the dog daily, and I even took up kickboxing – I was determined not to be held prisoner by this effing thing! Many times, after class, I could barely walk, and the condition definitely affected the height and power of my kicks (and to make matters worse, I have short legs!).
It was my eldest daughter who explained that it wasn’t my hip, but the adductor muscle. She is a kickboxing instructor, and periodically experiences the same kind of pain; in fact, it is a very common injury for sporty people. I am pretty sure that mine first occurred when I was learning to ride my motorbike… I fell off a zillion times, having to drag the poor machine back into an upright position time after time!
I revisited the doctor, who referred me for some physiotherapy, but although the guy was very nice, he basically showed me the same stretching exercises we were doing during kickboxing classes and advised me to stick with it.
Fast forward 6 months, I was still in pain and more often than not walking with a limp. My daughter kept telling me that the tightness was probably caused by the glute muscles, and I did my best to loosen them up! And then, after class one evening, she handed me a sponge snord and instructed me to put it on the floor and roll my bottom over it… and I felt a crunching in the offending cheek, which was actually quite pleasant, in a weird way!
I started to do something I used to do, many years ago: repeatedly and tightly squeezing and releasing my buttock cheeks… on the couch, in bed, whilst at my computer desk, etc. I also got into the habit of performing sets of hip-lifts, and stretching my legs whilst holding onto my toes (and watching TV!), and I began to notice an improvement in my groin – there was far less tightness and a lot less pain… plus no locking! I have been waiting to wake up one day and find that it was just a temporary improvement, and that the stiffness is still there – but, two weeks have passed, and I am still able to move around much better than I have been able to for years. I am not saying that I am completely pain-free, but probably about 85%. I still try to be careful with how I move, especially whilst turning over in bed, but it really seems that a couple of simple exercises have made a massive difference!
Of course, my leg muscles are stronger than they were a year ago before I began kickboxing, and so that will definitely have helped. But, even so, the young students in their teens and twenties obviously have more natural flexibility than I do, at 61. However, I am quick on my feet whilst sparring, and am told by the instructor that I have very ‘fast hands’! One test is going to be when I next wear shoes with heels; although I used to almost live in heels, nowadays I am either wearing trainers or flip-flops or have bare feet. I noticed in the past that the pain would become more intense after I had changed my footwear for something a little loftier, even for just a few hours… and I am hoping that that will no longer be the case!
Another of the areas I know I still need to work on is how I hold myself during pad-work and sparring; I am way too stiff, which admittedly, puts a bit of power behind a jab-cross, but is poor style! And of course, a more fluid approach is going to help me improve technique and speed, and avoid unnecessary muscle strain. It is so easy to throw yourself into it, shoulders stiff and scrunched, forgetting to ‘flow like water’!
And, of course, good rotation is absolutely necessary where fluid movement is concerned; the three R’s have been drummed into us like a sacred mantra: reach, rotation, and retraction!
It is never too late to become more physically flexible, and reduce or even heal old injuries – and sometimes it isn’t even as difficult as we fear it might be. I am not saying that these simple and common-place stretches are the ultimate solution to all adductor issues – only that they have been working for me, and my particular problem. I was on the verge of angrily demanding further medical assessment, convinced that I would never be free of the wretched pain and stiffness… but I am hugely more hopeful now!