Jump to content

Reinjuring self due to muscle memory - chronic abductor issues

Recommended Posts

Hello friends,


I've been facing a recurring issue as of the last 1-2 years following a 1-year hiatus from consistent exercise/movement and am looking for some insight. 

I am a former handbalancer who had full splits in all directions under load, flat pancake, etc. 


2 years ago I started getting back into handbalancing after a 1-2 year break; I should note that I lost at least 40% of my flexibility at this point. I decide to just have fun and go into a handstand but when I kicked up, I reflexively snapped into a straddle in the range I've grown to find comfortable in my life with little warmup and felt like I tore both my abductors. I began rehabbing my abductor but was being more active and kept finding myself accidentally moving my leg into a range I no longer owned and reinjuring my groin. 


This has kept happening over the past 2 years as even coming down from the wall in a stomach-to-wall handstand, I keep straddling too wide on the way down and feel an intensely sharp and burning pull in my abductor. It feels like a nerve issue as it is an incredibly sharp and burning sensation and I feel little to no pain until my abductor gets very.. "taut". I have issues with cossacks... pancakes.. and I can't even comfortably do side leg swings without very closely monitoring my range as it's very easy to swing a bit too high into pain which feels like searing lava in my inner thigh. 


Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, phenox said:

I keep straddling too wide on the way down and feel an intensely sharp and burning pull in my abductor.

So don't. Pain is the signal that something needs attention. If the habits you have are hurting you (and they seems to have been for the last two years on your account above), then stop doing what's hurting you. "Accidentally" moving into a range you don't have presently is simply not paying attention. This may sound like an odd thing to say, but in my experience the people are hurt themselves the most often are people who used to be very flexible. You literally have to relearn all of your ranges of movement, and that means going slower than you want to, and it means paying much closer attention to what your body is telling you at the time of doing any movement. There is no way around this.

As well, you probably need to strengthen these muscles. The best way is to do isometric contractions very carefully at end ROM. Using socks on a slippery floor and holding on to a strong stable support is the way to start. Do them with feet parallel, and then with legs turned out maximally. Do these with the trunk in line with the legs, as well as bent over 90° (like a standing pancake). Be very gentle in the beginning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a bunch Kit, I was getting a little concerned thinking it was scar-tissue or nerve impingement as I haven't been getting good results with rehab. I've been doing lots of light dynamic pulses/stretches before the point of pain with some minor contractions in a modified cossack squat or quite the PPT'd straddle but I have to take it so incredibly slow as I am reaching my end-range where I experience pain very suddenly. Releasing after a contraction doesn't do much of anything in terms of ROM of-course so I've been using it just to build more awareness/comfort. The tendency for my body to want to sink into the stretch is very difficult to resist as it seems like most muscles in my thigh/groin want to release except one. 


I love your suggestion for standing pancake and will implement today; I've just been doing single leg cossack pulls with a towel on the floor trying to contract my leg in using my adductors. This seems like a much better alternative. 


Thanks again Kit, have been following your content and buying your books/vimeo videos for the last 10 years. Quite lovely to receive some feedback from you :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks @phenox!

As a general rule, when a muscle is not 'behaving', strengthening it while maintaining its length usually is effective. The standing side splits (parallel feet and turned out legs) and standing pancake done as I describe will help for sure, but to identify exactly what muscle is the problem, try this:


It is surprisingly strong. The hip joint is neither turned in or our, so stresses the muscles differently to the exercises I described; might be worth trying. Do please let us know.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...