I’ve had to come out of the lurking shadows and look for help; I’ve been a bit silly…
You’ve probably guessed it from the title - I was a twat and neglected training legs directly for the year and a halfish that I’ve been training. Other than a token gesture once a month or so my poor quads haven’t seen much action, and needless to say I’ve seen 7 year old girls with bigger legs than me. My one legged nan could probably squat more than me.
Anyway, I’ve seen the error of my ways - queue big time leg session. But I’ve hit an issue.
As I’ve started to add weight to the bar (in any squat variation) I’ve felt an ever increasing pain in my groin area - more precisely at the very top of my quad, where it meets my hip.
A bit of search bar action leads me to believe I have a very tight hip flexor (as opposed to an adductor issue i think - I’m not a physician by any stretch of the imagination so I could be well off the mark here).
I asked a physio friend of mine about the issue and he recommended various stretches - but they’re bloody painful and I can only assume that will just aggravate the problem in the short term.
One of the bigger guys at the gym suggested using the “girly” adductor machine after every leg session to bring the lagging muscles to comparative strength.
One of the PTs suggested just manning up and working through the pain and the weaker muscles will strengthen gradually.
Logic tells me to keep any movement of the area to a minimum for a week or so until the pain goes before I dive back in. But what would people suggest after that?
Lots of static stretching prior to squatting and then play it safe with lots of warm up sets?
Take my foot off the pedal leg training wise and focus on getting the flexibility needed?
Or just going for it and the weaker areas will eventually catch up?
I’d try sticking to goblet squats for a while and see how that treats you. Use a 60lb db and work up from there. I don’t know why anyone would tell you to ignore pain. Do some mobility, stretching, and soft tissue work for the entire glutes and piriformis.
Hip flexor stretches are not for the weak of heart. Do them as best you are able, knowing that you can WORK through pain, but you can’t really STRETCH through it.
x2 on 101Above, though I always kinda figured goblet squats were more a mobility exercise in themselves than anything serious.
We need an injury forum.
When you get back to serious squatting, keep with the mobility exercises and a thorough warm-up. Save the static stretching for after the workout. Do what other people tell you WRT foam-rolling (I’ve never done it). Also, add in some ab and glute-specific training. Tight hip-flexors tend to correlate with weak abdominals, weak glutes, and ab exercise. Over time if you can strengthen your abs and glutes, in addition to being a better athlete, it should help you be more injury-free as well.
Same thing happened to me when I started squatting. And yes, it is do to inflexibility and weak muscles. Going from never training legs to squats can be a bit difficult, especially if you just sit around the rest of the day like me.
If the pain is absolutely overbearing, then back off for a few days. I just lifted through the pain, however stretching helped immensely. Also, I warm up very methodically now. Start with the bar and work your way up. After a while the pain will subside.
Oh, and of course, make sure your form is dialed in. I thought my squats were the bees knees until I read Starting Strength. Turns out I was all kinds of wrong.
foam rolling seemed to help me out when I had similar problems. I seemed to get the same pain in my right flexor and also some sciatica after deadlifts more than squats, but squats definitely aggravated my hip as well. For me, the issue was a lack of flexibility AND mobility. If I were you, I’d work on improving mobility in your hips as well as your knees and ankles. If you click on the link at the top of this site’s home page that says “body repair” there are several articles about improving mobility that will pop up.
Do some foam rolling, then the mobility drills, then some very light, short stretching before lifting and some serious static stretching after lifting. Rather than go really light with the weights, just squat a little shallower than you have been until your mobility and flexibility improves. Your lower back probably starts to round a little bit as you get toward the bottom of a squat, so stop just short of this point for now. You won’t get the same stimulus you would if you went parallel or beyond, but it’s still more stimulus than you’d get if you stopped entirely until your mobility and flexibility was up to par. If you do deadlifts (which you definitely should be doing), perform the deadlifts from blocks that place the bar several inches below your knees.
One other thing I do is get a deep-tissue massage about once a month and I have the masseuse concentrate on my ass, hamstrings, lower back and quads.
Do these. Also twist your trunk so you face away from the target muscle being stretched. Do not do them immediately before a squat session. Stretching too much will decrease myofascial tension and will cause you to lose some strength in the short term. This could also put you at risk for further injury.
Do the stretches when you can and ensure progression.
I strained a hip flexor back squatting about 2 years ago. I still stretch my hip flexors once or twice a week.
Your hip flexors are probably tight from sitting down for hours and hours. Continuing to squat with tight hips will not allow your quads and glutes to fire properly and will probably lead to further injury.
Would using a tennis ball have the same effect as foam rolling? I read through “Soft Tissue Work for Tough Guys” article and it suggested using the ball as a sort of progression from the foam roller, but could I get away with just using the ball? (I know for the sake of only $10 or so there’s no point in short changing myself when it comes to injury, but the article kinda suggested the ball was a more focused tool)
I think you’re spot on Bones, I read that sitting in a desk chair for hours on end leads to shortening of the hip flexors, which, despite being generally quite sporty, fits quite well.
Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all your help. I’m actually quite excited to put all this into practice.
Now to see if my nan can give me that “deep-tissue massage” that I need…oh yeah…
It’s amazing what a tennis ball can do for you. I had tight piriformis muscles which contributed to my toes pointing outwards when I walk. I went to PTs for back pain (facet dysfunction @ L5), but overall, my hip mobility sucked. The stretches they gave me have been great and I can now stretch my piriformis without pain. However, when I started the program, I took a tennis ball to my piriformis, glutes, etc. Oh the pain and agony. However, it really helped.
If I take a tennis ball to the tight spots in my glute, I can feel releasing in my back. I swear by tennis ball soft tissue work now.