Groin strains are one of the most common injuries in soccer players. The muscles of the groin, the hip adductors, are particularly vulnerable because of the repetitive and forceful kicking motion in soccer. In addition, hip adductor muscle weakness is a risk factor for groin injuries in soccer players (Engebretsen et al. 2010).

Hip exercises may prevent groin strains by strengthening muscles used in kicking.  In 2002, Tim Tyler and his colleagues published a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine finding that exercises using Thera-Band® elastic resistance bands can prevent groin injuries in hockey players.

Recently, Danish researchers investigated the effectiveness of Thera-Band hip exercises in soccer players. Jesper Jensen MD and colleagues published their study online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

34 male soccer players were randomly assigned to a training group or a control group. Exercises were performed as group training sessions led by a physiotherapist using Thera-Band elastic resistance bands (blue, black, silver and gold colors).  A hip adduction movement was performed over full range of motion with 3 seconds concentric, 2 seconds isometric hold, and 3 seconds of eccentric hip adduction.

The athletes performed 3 sets of exercise with both legs during each session. The table below provides the 8-week protocol that varied in intensity from 8 to 15 RM resistances. The resistance of the exercise was increased by progressing the band color, adding an extra band, or by increasing the distance from the fixation point.

The researchers measured each player’s eccentric and concentric hip adduction strength with a hand-held dynamometer. Eccentric hip adductor strength is important in soccer athletes in order to decelerate the leg and possibly improve the muscles ability to avoid injury.

The researchers found that the Thera-Band strengthening programs significantly increased eccentric hip adduction strength in the training group compared to the control group.

While both the control and training group improved in hip adduction strength, the training group improved significantly more (13% more) than the control group. The researchers stated,

“The hip adductor strengthening programme in the present study was performed with elastic bands, which is a simple strength training modality requiring only a fixation point for the elastic band and a rack or fence for the player to hold on to and fixate the upper body with.  This makes it possible to perform the hip-adductor strengthening programme at the training field, as part of the soccer players’ everyday soccer-training sessions.”

In conclusion, an 8-week supervised group exercise program with one Thera-Band hip adduction exercise significantly increases hip adductor strength in soccer players, which may help prevent groin injuries.

REFERENCE: Jensen J, et al. Eccentric strengthening effect of hip-adductor training with elastic bands in soccer players: a randomised controlled trial  Br J Sports Med. 2012 Jul 4. [Epub ahead of print]
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