Groin Strain: A common sporting injury

A groin strain results from putting too much stress on muscles in your groin and thigh (mostly commonly the adductor longus muscle is affected). If these muscles are tensed too forcefully or too suddenly, they can get over-stretched or torn.

Groin pulls are common in people who play sports that involve a lot of kicking, rapid acceleration and deceleration or sudden changes in position, for example soccer, AFL and hockey.

What does a groin strain feel like?

Symptoms may include:

  • A popping or snapping feeling at the time of injury, followed by severe pain
  • Pain and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh
  • Pain when bringing the legs together
  • Pain when raising the knee

What are the risk factors?

These include:

  • Previous groin strain
  • Higher level of play
  • Reduced hip adductor strength
  • Reduced sports specific training

How is a groin strain diagnosed?

  • A thorough assessment by your doctor or physiotherapist is required to diagnosis and eliminate other diagnosis that can mimic symptoms. In most circumstances, further testing is not required. However an Xray or MRI may be required to exclude other problems.

What is the treatment for a groin strain?

  • Initial treatment aims to minimise bleeding and swelling, promote tissue healing, prevent joint stiffness and protect against further damage using the POLICE principle (see previous blog).
  • The No HARM protocol should also be applied – no heat, no alcohol, no running or activity, and no massage. This will ensure decreased bleeding and swelling in the injured area.
  • Active stretching and strengthening exercises. How soon this can start will depend on the severity of the injury and pain should be used as a guide.
  • Can participate in general fitness training not involving adductor muscles e.g. cycling if pain free
  • Introducing gentle jogging from 6 weeks if pain free
  • Avoid training/ sports 8-12 weeks depending on severity of injury.

If the initial groin injury is not treated appropriately or if a person returns to sport too quickly, it may develop into a longstanding injury or chronic groin strain.

A graduated physiotherapy rehabilitation program will improve the movement, control and strength following a groin strain and enable full recovery.

Janette O’Toole

Janette O’Toole

Principle Physiotherapist
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