A groin strain is an injury or a tear to any of the adductor muscles of the thigh. In human anatomy, the adductor muscles of the hip are a group of muscles of the thigh, mostly used for bringing the legs together. Martial arts practitioners, soccer and hockey players, skiers, and Olympic weightlifters are the most common athletes who experience groin strain.
There are five groin muscles in a human's body; three of them are called the "short adductors," and the other two are called the "long adductors." Although muscle strains can occur randomly, there are still factors which can increase the likelihood of sustaining injury. These include not warming up properly, having weak adductor muscles, tight adductor muscles, previous injury, lower back problems, and biomechanical factors.
Symptoms of Groin Strains
Not all groin strains are created equal. In fact, they can range from very mild to downright unbearable. And when they happen to an athlete, especially to a runner, they can be debilitating. They can even stop them in their courses for a certain number of weeks, or months.
The primary symptom of an acute groin strain is a sudden sharp pain in the crotch area, which is the inguinal region between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of the pubic bone. It might be felt when sprinting or in fast-changing direction. Although there is often swelling, groin strains cannot be seen on the physical and cannot be concluded by the eyes.
This kind of injury is graded 1, 2, or 3 depending on the extent of the damage and pain Grade 1 is a minor tear where you can feel discomfort but can still walk without much pain. Grade 2 is likely to result in more severe illness, plus with bruising and swelling. Grade 3 is a complete or almost complete rupture. If this level occurs, you might need to stop from any major or hard movements.
Treating Groin Strain
In most cases, a groin strain will usually heal on its own. However, to speed the healing, you can do something about it. Here are some treating techniques for you to follow:
This treatment stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This method can help you heal groin strain by limiting the bleeding and reduce the swelling as well as the pain associated with muscle injuries. Among the other ways, R.I.C.E. should be your first treatment measure in the first 48 to 72 hours following the pain.
However, if this treatment didn’t help your situation and pain is still present, you may need to see your physician. He may consider surgery if all other options proved ineffective.
In most cases, a mild groin strain can take up to 2 to 4 weeks to heal with proper rest, effective therapy, and proper stretching. However, the recovery you need depends on how severely injured you were. Of course, for serious injuries, the recovery process can take up to two or more months. As a general guideline, take as many rest days as you need, but nothing shorter than a week.
Cold therapy is one of the most accessible treatment to reduce swelling and ease the pain effectively. With that said, ice the injured thigh for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times a day. With regular treatment, you will notice the absence of pain and inflammatory.
As the saying goes, nobody else can heal you aside yourself. So why not do the first aid for your groin strains by wearing a compression support or applying a groin strapping. These methods will help you ease the pain and reduce swelling. It can also protect your thigh from further injury and speed up recovery.
If you do not own a groin strapping support, you can alternatively use a special precut groin tape elastic bandage to protect and support your injured thigh.
Anti-inflammatory Painkiller Helps
In cases of severe pain, one of the most natural thing you can do is to reach for an over-the-counter-anti-inflammatory pill to help you reduce pain and inflammation of the injury. Drugs like Aleve, Advil, or Motrin are some of the many options you can buy. However, remember to take them infrequently and never get addicted to them.
After some time on resting, you should start doing some stretches, especially the adductor muscle - a skeletal tissue located in the thigh. Also, do some stretching on your hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, and the lower abdominals. Just don’t start this too aggressively because you might risk further damaging your groin.
Start stretching as long as you can do it without pain. If you experienced pain while spreading your thigh part, you might want to stop for a while and decide whether you will continue or not. Do the stretching at least a couple of time day in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Here are the three stretches you need:
Stretching can help you relax the muscle, prevent scar tissue formation and promote blood flow to the injured area. However, if it is not the right time yet, you cannot achieve that vital thing for a speedy recovery.
Strengthening the muscles of your thighs is an essential element of the rehabilitation process. If the muscles on your thigh to leg lack the proper strength, then they will be prone to re-injury, and you don’t want that. As the saying goes by... "Prevention is always better than a cure."
Your primary goal with strength training is to increase the load through muscles gradually. However, you must take note that you are not allowed to overdo this process because your flesh might be inclined to danger. Here's what you have to do:
Start with isometric exercises or any strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. After that, progress to dynamic strength exercises with a resistance band, followed by runners’ strength specific workouts to help you build more energy and power in the lower part of the body.
Same with other treatment, if strengthening your muscle is painful, stop and wait for the right time. You can’t rush it here unless you want to hurt yourself.
Go Back to Running
After a groin strain or any other type of injury, it is a must for you to return to running BUT in a gradual process. A full return to your previous running cycle may take two weeks or more, depending on how severely you were injured. You can start running again immediately during the recovery phase as long as it’s pain-free.
Hill repeats are an excellent way to build strength, improve speed, and confidence. However, you do not want to go straight back to this great strength gainer or any sprint intervals immediately because it might give you re-injury. However, when you slowly build it up from slow and pain-free jogging, you can achieve a proper treatment that may lead to a good condition. When you can jog for 20 to 30 minutes without pain, then you can begin to speed it up.
Plus, keep a sharp eye on signs of tenderness or pain, you need to back off from running if any develops. Just keep in mind that any intense work can undo the treatment and further damage your groin.
Causes of Groin Strains
An acute groin strain is usually caused by sudden movements of the hips, legs, or feet such as kicking, twisting while running, and even jumping. According to a study, athletes are most at risk for this injury. Although a critical condition may take a long time to recover fully, groin strains are not usually dangerous.
Pain in the groin, or any area of your hip between your stomach and thigh, can be due to some causes and can come on gradually or very suddenly. If a sudden onset of groin strain is not treated efficiently, it may become prone to recurring a more ailment.
Prevention of Groin Strains While Running
Since you already know what the causes of groin strains are, you should also know what to do to prevent it.
However, here are some more of the measures you need to take to prevent groin strains over the long haul.
As a runner or generally an athlete, you can prevent groin strains by making sure to start right. That is to do a proper warm-up that includes 5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging. A decent warm-up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for intense activity, helping you ward off pain and injury.
If you are doing any form of intense workouts, such as sprint or hill repeats, make sure also to do an active warm-up exercise to fire up your muscles and get your body ready for the intense work ahead.
Regular Stretch and Strength
Stretching will not only help you recover faster, but it can also help your body to become stronger that may lead to prevention of groin strains and other running injuries.
Flexible and durable leg muscles are vital for the prevention of most strain and overuse injuries, including groin strain. If your muscles are too tense, then it’s easy for those muscles to be overstretched exceeding their natural range of motion. And this kind of pain will lead to a more painful experience such as sprains, strains, and pulled muscles.
The goes by with the strength training since it can also help you build a robust and tougher body that can better withstand the high impact nature of running over the long haul.