Groin injuries aren’t at all uncommon in active people. Whether you’re a professional athlete or the parent of an adventurous child, it’s important to understand how to spot these injuries and what to do when they occur.
Serious complications don’t typically accompany groin injuries, but they can require surgery, bedrest or bring on infections, or even death if they aren’t treated.
Today, we’ll familiarize you with the common causes for groin injury. We’ve also got you covered with tips on how to recover, avoid further injuries, and when it’s time to see a physical therapist or doctor.
Just keep reading this extensive guide to learn more.
Groin injuries are usually tears or ruptures in one of the 5 the adductor (inner thigh) muscles. The purposes of the adductor muscles are to pull your legs back to the midline and control the pelvis when your legs are moving. This includes times you’re walking, running, or hurdling.
The symptoms of varying groin injuries tend to mimic one another. So, you should seek a doctor or physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine if you think you have one. This way, you’ll quickly obtain an accurate diagnosis to begin treatment.
Most groin injuries aren’t serious, but factors like age, gender, and groin strength have a significant impact.
Common Types and Causes of Groin Injuries
If you’re an athlete, your body is your tool. Therefore, it’s important to listen to what your aches and pains are trying to tell you.
It isn’t rare to have more than one groin injury at a time. And it’s even more common to have fear and uncertainty regarding your athletic future when these things occur.
Some common groin injuries are:
This groin injury is the most commonly seen. Adductor strain occurs when you move beyond your regular range of motion and overstretch or tear the muscles. If you make abrupt turns or stops, you’re more likely to experience this injury.
Who it Affects
Adductor strains affect soccer players and runners the most.
You will feel intense pain in your groin area when you raise your knees or do plyometric exercises. You may even feel the muscle fibers stretch or tear at the time of the injury. It can feel like a sharp or snapping sensation.
An avulsion fracture is when your bone is injured in an area where it connects to a tendon or ligament. This can occur in every part of the body.
Because their pelvic growth plates are still growing and not yet solidified, this injury is most common in child athletes. Where adults are more likely to injure a tendon or ligament.
Regarding groin injuries, an avulsion fracture can occur in two places:
Ilia Crest- Top of the hip bone.
Ischial Tuberosity- The area where the pelvic bone and hamstring join.
Children usually recover without surgery or growth problems. However, if the bone is pulled too far from its regular position, an operation can be considered.
Who it Affects
Athletic children and dancers are most likely to have an avulsion fracture.
Swelling, bruising, pain, and muscular weakness in the surrounding area of the fracture are known symptoms.
An Inguinal Hernia
Inguinal hernias occur when the muscles in your lower abdomen become torn or overstretched. This causes soft tissue and abdominal organs like intestine to push against or through the weakened abdominal wall.
Contact a doctor right away if you think you have an inguinal hernia. It’s possible that you have an incarerated hernia which can be life-threatening.
Who it Affects
Inguinal hernias are most common in men, but women can get them too. This groin injury is most common among weightlifters.
The main symptom of an inguinal hernia is the appearance of a bulge in the groin area. The hernia can also cause pain and a dragging sensation when you lift, stretch, bend, laugh, or cough.
Snapping Hip Syndrome
Snapping hip syndrome usually comes when a muscle or tendon isn’t properly aligned in the hip area. Unlike other groin injuries, you won’t experience much pain with this.
However, the pain will occur if the muscle or tendon becomes irritated and inflamed. Snapping hip syndrome can also lead to hip bursitis (chronic hip pain) later in life.
Who it Affects
If you play soccer, practice martial arts, dance, or have had hip or knee surgery you can experience snapping hip syndrome.
Child athletes who’ve had recent growth spurts are also at risk.
Hearing a snapping sound in your hips when you walk, kick, or rotate your legs.
Athletic Pubalgia (Sports Hernia)
Many groin injuries are misclassified as sports hernias while the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons defines them as tears in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower abs. This is the area where the abdomen and adductors meet.
Who it Affects
Athletes who pivot sharply and accelerate and decelerate rapidly tend to experience sports hernias. They include football, rugby, soccer, and ice hockey players.
There’s no bulge with sports hernias like inguinal hernias. Instead, sports hernias are recognized by pain in the lower abs and groin.
Hip Labral Tears
Hip labral tears are often caused by small bone deformities called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). These injuries can affect an athlete immediately or gradually over a long period.
In most cases, you will need surgery to recover from this injury.
Who it Affects
This injury is often seen in those who play baseball, hockey, and runners.
This injury is typically realized when there are constant pain and stiffness in the hip area, less hip stability, and groin pain.
You can recover from simpler groin injuries like adductor strains without help from a doctor or physical therapist.
By following these steps, you should be up and running within a week:
Rest- Take a break from exercise to avoid worsening pain and damage. This can last for several days. Listen to your body and don’t push it too far too soon.
Ice- Apply ice to the injury to reduce inflammation. Don’t set the ice pack on your bare skin and don’t leave it on the area for more than 15 minutes. That’s enough time to get frostbite.
Tape it- Using a compression wrap on the injured area will limit its ability to swell. This will also limit your range of motion and risk of deeper injuries when you’re up and moving around.
Kinesio tape is another muscle-soothing option. When applied, it calms inflammation, muscle soreness, and speeds up cell and tissue restoration.
Elevation- This is crucial for reducing the amount of swelling during the first 24 hours you’re hurt. Lie on your back with your legs elevated using pillows. With this step, you’re allowing blood to move back to your heart instead of causing swelling.
Take the right pill- Your options for over the counter painkillers are endless. But one with anti-inflammatory properties is best for groin injuries.
Popping an ibuprofen or aspirin will reduce inflammation and pain.
Gentle stretching- Before going back into your full training regime, you need to begin preparing your body for physical activity again. When the swelling goes down, and you’re no longer in pain, gently stretch the area.
This will help your range of motion return and reduce your chances of injury the next time you exercise. Don’t push too hard when you first get back into stretching.
Start with seated stretches and gradually work your way to more complicated poses.
Slowly return to exercise- When you feel you are ready to exercise again, don’t return to the workouts you were doing before your injury. You need to allow your body adequate time to heal, or you can sign yourself up for a lifetime of groin pain and complications.
For example, if you’re typically a long distance runner, start walking and then jogging long distances before you run again.
When to See a Doctor
If your groin pain gets in the way of performing normal tasks like standing in the shower, see a doctor. This is a clear indicator that you’re sustained a more serious injury.
If your pain persists or becomes more drastic, after completing the steps above for adductor strain, see a doctor. You shouldn’t be out of commission very long if you have a minor injury.
Ongoing and increasing pain are signs of a more serious issue.
Preventing Common Causes for Groin Injury
If you don’t want to spend days icing and wrapping your sore spots, there are some easy ways to avoid these common groin injuries. You need to make stretching, strengthening, and resting your body part of your regular training routine.
Don’t wait until you’re hurt to start practicing self-care. Here are simple exercises you can do to prevent groin hell:
In addition to updating your strengthening and stretching routine, giving your body adequate time to recover is an important factor in avoiding injuries. Yes, this can involve relaxing on your couch. But the best ways of recovering after training require a bit more, such as:
Scheduling regular sports massages- Sports massages are different from others because they are designed to help athletes improve. The bonus here is the benefits can start immediately.
After attending your first couple of sessions, you will see that you’re more energetic and limber, you are more relaxed and focused, and you experience less muscle soreness.
Using a foam roller- If you’re new to foam rolling, you will probably find yourself overwhelmed by all the different shapes and sizes, but don’t be. Foam rolling is a form of self-massaging that increases the blood flow to your muscles and improves mobility and recovery.
It also minimizes muscular imbalances and allows you to train harder than you were able to before.
Going to bed earlier- This one is easier said than done for most people. You’re busy; we’re all busy.
But getting a restful night of sleep every night is every elite athlete’s secret weapon. When you’re asleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH).
This hormone is largely responsible for the growth and repair of the muscles and tissues that are broken down when you exercise.
Don’t overtrain- There’s a difference between overtraining and pushing your body to improve. Listen to your body whenever you use it. If you feel too exhausted or worn out, take a rest day where you focus on active recovery instead of training.
Training too hard leads to injuries, your body breaking down muscle (becoming weaker), fewer quality workouts, and your body essentially shutting down.
Physical Therapy Professionals
However, we’ve found preventive therapy works especially well for athletes. Allow us to be your partner in keeping you in your best shape to meet your performance goals. It’s also easier than ever to schedule an appointment without a prescription with direct access.
Now that you know all about the common causes for groin injury, your next step is to schedule an appointment via our online forum. We look forward to learning about your needs and curating a personal plan that’ll bring them to life.