A twist to the right, a sharp turn or a pivot could set you up to score—or mess up your groin. Ranging from mild strains to sports-induced hernias, groin injuries are problematic because of the frequent use of such movements to change direction.
Most groin injuries are caused by a forceful twisting, turning or pivoting motion that causes the abductors to overstretch, resulting in a strain or tear to your adductors muscles. These muscles are located along your inner thigh and help bring your leg toward your midline, like when a hockey player brings their leg to center after a stride.
In addition to adduction, the groin muscles provide pelvic stability. That means they’re constantly firing along with other hip stabilizer muscles, such as your hip flexors and glutes, to maintain control when performing athletic movements.
A groin injury can happen to anyone. However, athletes at greater risk are those with:
- Tight groin muscles
- Weak cores and hip abductors
- Poor hip internal rotation
- Poor pelvic and lumbar stability
Groin Pull Rehab
Suspect that you have a pulled groin? Your first course of action is to assess the injury. If you’re in severe pain or the pain lingers for days, consult with a physician. If you have a minor pull, try the following strategy detailed by Dr. Matt Stevens, physical therapist and owner of Pure Physio (Strongsville, Ohio), which will strengthen, stabilize and mobilize your groin.
Banded Adductor Shuffle
How to: Attach a resistance band to an immovable object. Wrap the band around the ankle of your injured leg and stand perpendicular to the wall so the band is to your side. Make sure there’s tension in the band. With your hips and knees slightly bent, shuffle away from the wall for 3-4 steps. Slowly shuffle toward the wall for 3-4 steps to return to the starting position.
Sets/Reps: 1-2×10-12 each leg
Single-Leg Barbell Touches
How to: Place an unloaded barbell on your back in the same position you’d use for a Back Squat. Lift your left leg off the ground to balance on your right leg. Slightly bend your hips and knee. Without moving your torso or balancing leg, bring your left leg out to the side and tap your toe to the ground. Bring it to center and again, tap your toe to the ground. As you advance in this exercise, increase the difficulty by adding weight to the barbell.
Sets/Reps: 1-2×10-12 each side
How to: Assume an all-fours position, spread your knees wide and point your feet out, and lower yourself to your elbows. This may be uncomfortable for your knees, so do this on a yoga mat or other padded surface. Slowly drive your hips backward until you feel a deep stretch in your groin. This stretch can be quite intense if you go too deep, so proceed with caution.
Sets/Reps: 1×45-60 sec.
- Maffey L & Emery C. “What are the risk factors for groin strain injury in sport? A systematic review of the literature.” Sports Medicine. 2007.