Add This Exercise To Your Core Workout, Prevent Groin Strains

Posted: May 17, 2013 in Baseball, Softball, Training
Tags: , , , ,

First, a little background information:

Balance is one of the most important things when it comes to designing a sound strength and conditioning program. For example, if a program includes 3 pressing exercises, it should also include 3 pulling exercises to maintain strength balance across the body. If somebody performs a ton of bench pressing without any rowing-type exercises, the mucles in the chest will become bigger and stronger, but the muscles in the back will not. Over time, this discrepancy in strength between the chest and back will lead to, at best, poor posture and, at worst, an injury. Since nobody wants to be injured, it’s typically a good idea to make sure that you try to balance movements in your strength and conditioning program.

This concept isn’t confined to pushing and pulling, however. Every movement at every joint should -in theory- be balanced. This, of course, is assuming that no imbalances exist to begin with. If somebody does have an existing strength imbalance, or they play a sport that requires repetitive movement (e.g. throwing), they should adjust their program to account for these issues.

One thing that baseball and softball players do a lot of is hip abduction (moving the foot sideways away from the body). This can be seen in hitting, but it is even more apparent when watching athletes throw.

strasburgsoftball pitch

In addition to the all the on-field hip abduction, athletes typically do a lot of exercises in the weight room that strengthen the muscles that abduct the hip. Conversely, hip adduction (moving the foot toward the body) is not nearly as prevalent in sports or in the weight room. This imbalance of abductor and adductor strength can cause an athlete to suffer a groin strain, which is a potentially debilitating injury. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes with weak hip adductors are 4x more likely to sustain a groin injury.

To reduce the risk of groin injury in softball and baseball players (and athletes in general), dedicated hip adduction work during training is a necessity. Hip adduction is tough to train, however. The usual methods for training hip adduction are the “Good Girl” machine and the Thighmaster, neither of which have a place in a serious training facility for athletes.

I typically don't prescribe these for my athletes...

I typically don’t prescribe these for my athletes…

Here is a much less feminine/silly exercise I’ve been having my athletes do recently for hip adductor strength. I refer to it as the Table Pinch, but I’m sure somebody else has a much better name for it. It’s part of a series of exercises designed to improve core and hip strength that was introduced to me by my friend Steve Luca, a physical therapist (all my athletes who do Table Pinches can now direct their hatred towards him). It’s kind of like a side plank for the adductors, and it’s BRUTAL. To be considered “strong” you should be able to do this for 80 seconds on each side. I’ve found that 30 seconds is a good place to start, though. Like I said, they’re brutal. If you’re an athlete, definitely add these to your program.

To perform Table Pinches, place one foot on top of a bench or low table, then hold yourself up in a side plank position while bringing your opposite foot up to the underside of the table. You should try to pinch the table with your feet, hence the name of the exercise.

The good thing about Table Pinches is that you can do them anywhere. All you need is something like a weight bench or a table that has a flat top and underside and is roughly as high as the distance from the middle of your head to your elbow (your feet should be level with your head while doing them).  Here’s a video of me forcing my girlfriend to demonstrate the ease with which one can perform Table Pinches at home. Sadly, she looks like she may be at an increased risk for groin strains.

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