Treating a Pulled Groin
The muscles of the groin, like several other muscle groups that play a central role in athletic activity, are sometimes subjected to strain, overuse, and over-extension. The groin muscles are responsible for drawing the legs together and they provide stability and balance in the groin area which translates to stability in the legs and core. These muscles are strong, but when stretched suddenly or pulled beyond their limits, they’re prone to damage that can range from mild inflammation to complete tears. This is a common injury among athletes, especially athletes involved in sports that require running, jumping, and sudden changes of direction. High lifts and other sudden motion in the legs can also lead to a pulled groin, which is why this injury is so prevalent among soccer, hockey, and football players.
Diagnosing a Pulled Groin
In some cases, a pulled groin happens very suddenly and the onset of the injury is obvious. In this case, an athlete may be engaged an in sudden change of direction or a fast, exaggerated motion and the groin may tear in way that actually creates a sound, like a pop or snap. In this case, the moment of the injury is usually followed by immediate and intense pain.
In other cases, the groin pull may happen during a burst of activity and may be noticeable only a few moments later, or minor groin strain may occur, weakening the area and subjecting it to further damage. In any case, there are three clear signs that a groin pull may have taken place. If you experience any of these, it may be a good idea to step out of the game or end the training session and start the process of treating the injury:
1. Tenderness, redness, swelling or pain inside the thigh or in the groin area
2. Pain when drawing the legs together
3. Pain when raising the knee.
In the case of a severe groin pull injury, raising the knee or pulling the legs together may not be possible. As with some other forms of injury, a groin pull is usually diagnosed in any of three degrees:
1. A first degree groin pull is slightly painful and tender, but the strength and movement of the leg isn’t really diminished.
2. A second degree groin pull involves pain, tenderness, and reduced strength and motion.
3. A third degree groin pull is actually a complete tear in one of the groin muscles, and it usually results in severe pain and a total loss of function.
Treating a First or Second Degree Groin Pull
A groin pull injury that falls within the first two degrees of severity will usually heal on its own if treated properly. If you experience any of the symptoms above like pain, tenderness, and somewhat limited motion, discontinue your activities for the time being. Apply the principles of RICE to limit the damage and speed the healing process.
1. Hold an ice pack against the inner thigh. A bag of frozen vegetables can be useful, since it can shape to the area of the injury. Ice the area for about twenty minutes at a time. Keep doing this every three or four hours for the next few days. In the case of a mild groin pull, this may be enough to heal the injury completely.
2. Compress the area with a snug bandage in order to keep fluid from building up, reduce swelling, and speed the healing process.
3. It’s not easy to elevate the groin area, but be sure to rest and refrain from unnecessary motion for a few days, especially intense athletic activity.
4. If your doctor recommends them, take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication like Motrin or Aleve. Take the minimum amount necessary for pain control.
5. As the groin heals and your range of motion increases, gently stretch the area to build muscle strength and increase circulation. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for specific stretching exercises that may be appropriate for your specific injury.
A mild groin pull treated with rest and ice will usually heal within about four to six weeks. But some groin pull injuries are more severe. Second and third degree pulled groin injuries may take much longer, and depending on the level of pain and loss of motion, they may require more serious medical attention for full recovery.
Treatment for a Severe Groin Pull Injury
If the moment of injury involves an audible sound, intense pain, and a total loss of motion, reach out for medical help immediately. The treatment process in this case will probably begin with an MRI or an X-ray to make sure no ligaments have been torn and no bones have been broken. Depending on what the scan reveals, a very severe groin pull may require surgery. In this case, the range of motion after the injury may not ever fully return to its previous levels. Before pursuing a surgical option, be sure to discuss the details with your doctor, including all possible side effects.
Regardless of your treatment process, don’t engage in intense activity until you can walk and run without pain, and balance the full weight of your body on both sides evenly. If you return to your former levels of athletic activity to quickly, you can reinjure the area and possibly cause damage that may last for life.
Preventing a Groin Pull Injury
The best way to prevent a pulled groin muscle is to keep the groin area strong, flexible, and well-conditioned. Engage in regular stretching and make sure your athletic gear—especially your shoes—are well balanced and in good condition. During your training sessions, consider using the targeted resistance of Kbands training equipment, like the Kbands and KB Powerbands. Adding extra resistance to the core and the abductor muscles of the legs can build strength in vital areas of the groin and inner thigh. For more information about how resistance training works, take a look at the products tab towards the top of the website.