Among the most common and disabling musculoskeletal injuries in sports is the infamous “groin injury.”
Groin injuries consist of trauma to the groin muscles and tendons. These muscles are located on the inner thigh and consist of the adductor longus, adductor magnus, adductor brevis, gracilis and pectinus muscles.
Groin muscles work together to pull the lower extremity toward the center of the body. A strain occurs when sudden excess force is applied to these muscles or there is chronic repetitive injury resulting in tearing of fibers and swelling.
These injuries are most frequently seen in sports that require powerful leg movements to gain momentum. It has been reported that 10% of all injuries to professional ice hockey and soccer players involve the groin muscles. Athletes who compete in rugby, fencing, hurdling, cross country skiing and football are also prone to groin strain.
Symptoms of a groin strain include pain along the inner thigh on exertion and to touch. In severe cases, bruising may occur.
Groin strains should not be confused with the less common sports hernia. A sports hernia results from thinning abdominal muscles allowing the intestines to rub against the abdominal wall. The pain radiates along the lower abdomen.
Treatment of any muscle strain incorporates rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Anti-inflammatory medications are helpful in managing pain. Recovery involves gentle stretching followed by a gradual return to activity. If an athlete returns to play prematurely, groin strain can become a chronic problem.
A regimen of stretching and strengthening that emphasizes leg and core muscles is crucial to avoid these injuries. “Warming up” should consist of a moderate sport-specific activity both before and after an event.
It is becoming apparent that preparation is imperative to avoid being sidelined by a groin strain.