As with any strain, groin strain (also known as rider’s strain) is a stretch or tear of any or all of the adductor muscles of the inner thigh or their tendons. Hockey, football, tennis and other sports that require pivoting and quick direction changes are the most common activities for groin pulls. These injuries range from simple stretching of the muscles to more severe tearing of the fibres. As with other strains it is graded 1 through to 3 with 3 being the most severe tear.
Due to this location and function, athletes involved in sports where the leg is moved forcefully inward or outward are more susceptible to this injury.
Cause of injury
Forceful stretching of the adductor muscles of the hip. Forceful contraction of the adductor muscles. When sprinting or kicking a ball, for example – or by sudden changes in direction, which can occur in a range of sports. Overuse of the adductor muscles can lead to inflammation in the groin (adductor tendinitis).
Signs and symptoms
Grade 1: Mild pain. Stiffness in the adductor muscles but little or no effect on athletic performance.
Grade 2: More painful. Some swelling, tenderness, limited range of motion, pain when walking or jogging.
Grade 3: Very painful. Significant swelling, pain with weight bearing, sometimes pain at rest or at night.
Complications if left unattended
Untreated groin strains can lead to an awkward gait and chronic pain that could lead to injuries in other areas. A minor muscle tear could become more severe and eventually tear completely.
RICER. Anti-inflammatory medication. For a Grade 3 strain it may be necessary to seek a medical evaluation.
Rehabilitation and prevention
After initial treatment, minor strains will respond to a gradual stretching and strengthening programme. More serious strains will require additional rest and a slow entry back into activities with extra warm-up activities before each session.
Prevention of groin strain requires warming-up properly before activities, stretching for good flexibility in the abductor muscles, adductor muscles, abdominals and hip flex ors for good muscular balance.
Most groin strains will heal with no lasting effects. Only the most severe strains, with complete tears, require surgical correction.