Groin strains are amongst one of the most common injuries to be seen in competitive sport.
Groin strains are amongst one of the most common injuries to be seen in competitive sport, particularly in soccer, football, rugby, tennis, basketball, and running. This is because such sports involve powerful dynamic movements such as sprinting, jumping, or kicking, which when done repetitively can lead to overloading of the muscle fibres.
What is a Groin Strain:
A strain occurs when the fibres of a muscle/muscle tendon aren’t able to meet the demands placed upon them, thus causing the fibres to tear. This typically results from completing a powerful muscle contraction (at a greater capacity than the muscle can handle), or over-stretching of the muscle.
Anatomy of the Groin Strain:
The groin is a term used to refer to the group of muscles located in the inner thigh, which all play a role in adducting the leg (bring it back into the middle). Because of the movement they produce, these muscles are dubbed the adductor muscles, with the adductor longus being the most common groin muscle to strain.
A groin strain can present in varying ways depending on which adductor muscle is strained, and where along the muscle the strain has occurred. The muscle will typically be tender to touch along the muscle belly, or at either end when it becomes a tendon and connects to the bone. Any movement of the leg back into the middle (adduction) will be painful or uncomfortable to some degree. More severe groin strains can also result in weakness or complete loss of strength of the adductor muscles, as well as swelling and bruising at the location of the tear.
Recovery time depends greatly on the location and severity of the strain. Light strains (Grade 1) will typically heal in a few days with no major strength deficits seen once recovered. Moderate strains (Grade 2) can take 3-6 weeks to fully heal, with severe strains (Grade 3) taking up to 3 to 4 months to heal completely.
Rehabilitation and Prevention:
The first part of managing a groin strain is to rest it. This allows for no further damage to be done to the muscle fibres and will also ensure pain levels start to reduce. Once pain levels are properly under control (through rest, ice, or medications), one can begin to complete gentle exercises to regain strength and full range of motion. This is where having a physiotherapist to guide you is vital, as it is very easy to overload the muscle fibres again and cause re-injury, which consequently increases the healing time. Ultimately, the physiotherapist can help you get back to your initial state and return to sport safely and efficiently. They can also help prevent you from having subsequent groin strains in the future, which is particularly import as once you have had one groin strain you are more likely to have others once recovered.
For more information or advice regarding groin strains and how to recovery from one please see one of our friendly and knowledgeable physiotherapists.