Physical Therapy for a Groin Strain

NB Physical Therapy, Serving Westminster, Broomfield and Thornton

At NB Physical Therapy, we’ve helped numerous patients in Westminster, Broomfield and nearby areas with physical therapy for groin strains, a tearing injury to the adductor muscles of the hip.

So, what is this injury all about? You have 5 muscles that attach in your groin and inner aspect of the thigh’s long bone (femur). These are the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis and pectineus. Typically, injuries occur when one or more of these muscles are in a stretched position and then suddenly forced to contract. For example, let’s say you’re out for a run and misstep. As you lose control and begin slipping into a “splits position”, your body will reflexively protect your leg from spreading. You’re stretching the muscles and then snapping them back, thus causing a groin strain.

While less dramatic, even improper over-stretching techniques can cause a strain. Either way, you’ll likely know you have a groin strain by the pain in the injured muscle. There may be swelling in the groin and muscles may feel week. You’ll also feel the pain of a groin strain when bringing an injured leg inward in a motion similar to a soccer kick, as well as stretching the leg out to the side and just by standing on it.

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How Bad Is My Groin Strain?

Based on the severity of trauma to the muscle and tendon fibers, your groin strains may be graded as a one, two or three. Take a look below for a general description of each grade:

  • A grade one strain may not even be noticed until after the activity is completed. The symptoms that may present include tightness with a slight feeling of pain with contraction or stretching of the muscles. This type of strain will heal quickly if you allow it to heal and do not reinjure it.
  • With grade two groin strain, you’ll experience an immediate onset of pain at the time of your injury. You’ll feel pain while walking and the muscle will be sore when stretching or contracting. The area will also be sore to the touch and after a few days, bleeding of the muscle tissue might cause a bruise to appear. With proper treatment, a grade two strain will take 2-6 weeks to heal.
  • A rare grade three strain is rather catastrophic. The muscle fibers will completely rupture and you’ll experience intense burning or stabbing pain right away. Walking will be difficult due to severe pain. Like a grade two, bruising will typically surface in just a few days. These strains take around two months to heal and will also require 2-3 months of rehab for a full recovery.

Rehabilitating Groin Strains

The basics of treating your groin strain include rest, ice, compression and elevation. You can also take over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines to help with pain and swelling. To limit any muscle tissue bleeding and swelling during the first 5 days, apply ice every two hours for 20 minutes at a time. If it hurts to walk, you may need to use crutches for a day or more.

After 5 days of resting a groin strain, gentle and applicable exercises can be started to help restore your hip’s strength and range of motion. Physical therapy for a groin strain reforms healing scar tissues so that the healing fiber tears are aligned in the direction of movement. Of course, the worse your injury, the slower you should transition into the exercise phase.

It’s important to avoid pain during rehabilitation. Pain means that you have reinjured the muscle, so a return to activities and sports should be gradual and not forced. Continue with exercises that do not cause pain, limit the time you spend exercising, and limit stretching or resistive forces as muscles heal.

Preventing Groin Strains

As with many other muscle injuries, preventing a groin strain starts with a proper, 20-minute warm up to ensure your muscles are more flexible. Stretching exercises increase internal muscle temperatures by one or two degrees, enough to greatly increase muscle extensibility.

Practicing sports-specific skills and improving coordination are also great preventative measures. Not being prepared physically or mentally for competition puts you at risk. For example, soccer players need to kick, receivers in football need to run patterns, and runners need to run sprints. Strong and flexible are thought to be less susceptible to strains. And don’t forget appropriate shoes for the surface.

Another factor that can contribute to groin strains is diet. During the 48 hours prior to a game or event, an athlete needs a high-carb diet to supply enough energy for muscle contractions. Without adequate fuel, muscle fatigue can set in and contribute to the likelihood of injury such as a groin strain. Likewise, replenishing fluids is vital to your performance during a game, event or workout.

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