Groin Pull Symptoms and Treatments: A Helpful Guide

Have you ever experienced a groin injury? This often happens during sports activities but may happen while doing simple tasks. According to a study published in the May 2018 issue of the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 24.5% of all injuries are groin tears.

Continue reading to learn more about groin injuries and groin pull symptoms.

Anatomy of a Groin Injury

Hip and groin injuries occur most often in sports where there are sudden changes in direction and/or speed. Kicking or skating movements may cause an injury.

Groin injuries are described as acute (happened recently) or chronic (problematic over time). An acute injury may lead to a weakening of the area resulting in chronic problems.

The hip contains many muscles and tendons which allow it to move in all directions. The muscles attach to the femur (thigh bone) and the pelvis.

Many injuries occur in the musculotendinous junction. This junction is where the muscles and tendons join in the hip joint. The muscle cells have sarcomere membranes that fold inward in a complex fashion.

These folds decrease stress on this junction during muscle action. Thus, the risk of tears decreases because of sarcomere membrane folding.

The adductor muscles pull the leg back toward the center of your body. These muscles stabilize and control the pelvis during activities such as walking, running, riding a horse, and more.

When a tear happens, the fibers in the musculotendinous junction become disrupted. Hematomas, or collections of blood causing bruising, cause slow healing. 

Sometimes a muscle tears loose from its bone. It may even pull part of the bone off. This type of injury may need surgery to repair.

If a tear does occur, though, the infoldings of these sarcomeres may not fully repair. This increases the risk of future tears.

Factors That May Contribute to Groin Pulls

Muscle strains can happen during a variety of activities. Yet, there are some factors that may increase the chance of a groin strain. These include:

  • Failing to warm up before exercise
  • Weak adductor muscles
  • Tight adductor muscles
  • History of a groin injury
  • Low back problems
  • Biomechanical factors including improper gait or movement of the hip

Overstretching the groin muscles can result in a tear of the adductor muscle. Strains often involve damage to more than one part of the groin area.

Groin Pull Symptoms

Symptoms of a groin pull may happen immediately or show up over the coming days, weeks, or months from the initial strain. The pain may increase with continued use.

You might feel a sudden pulling or tearing sensation in the front of your hip and upper leg. Some people report a snapping sound when they move their hip or leg.

Swelling and bruising may occur at the time of the injury or even a few days later. You may feel weakness with walking, climbing stairs or moving your leg. You may limp when walking or have difficulty standing.

Immediate Care

When an injury occurs, most professionals recommend “R.I.C.E.” This acronym provides a guide to help decrease pain, bruising, swelling, and further injury.

Rest. Stop the activity and get in a comfortable position

Ice. Place ice over the injured area.

Compression. Wrapping with an elastic wrap to apply gentle pressure.

Elevation. Lie down if possible, to decrease the pooling of blood in the injured area.

See a healthcare provider if the pain continues.

A doctor who specializes in pulled groins may begin evaluating your injury using various tests. X-ray helps determine if you have a skeletal (bone) or medical problem causing your discomfort. They may also use MRI to fine-tune the diagnosis.

Stretches to Help a Pulled Groin Injury

Before starting any stretching or self-treatment for a groin injury, talk with your healthcare provider. Several medical conditions can mimic a groin injury. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and a prescribed treatment plan.

Some examples of stretches that may help a pulled groin include:

Hip flexor stretches. Begin by standing with one leg in front of the other. Slowly lower the back knee to the floor.

Keep your torso and shoulders in alignment with your hips. Once on your knee, push your hips forward and hold for a few seconds. Then return to the back to the starting kneeling position.

Repeat the same exercise with the other foot in front. This stretches the front hip muscles. You may place a pad under your knee if it’s uncomfortable.

Swinging leg stretch. Hold onto something at about waist to chest height. Then balance on one leg.

Swing the other leg front and back gently. Stay relaxed during this stretch and don’t force your leg higher than is comfortable.

Do about 10 swings on each leg. This helps to increase your range of motion.

Butterfly stretch. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and the bottom of your feet together. Keep your back straight and relax your hip muscles.

With your hands on your feet, gently push your knees toward the floor with your elbows. Hold a few seconds and then release. This helps to relax your groin muscles.

Straddle stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs in an open “V”. Keep your back straight and walk your hands forward as far as comfortable. Hold the position for a few seconds and then “walk” your hands back in. Repeat twice.

Now gently move your chest toward your leg. Repeat twice on each leg.

Side Lunge Stretch.  Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be turned to the outside for about 45 degrees.

Put your hands on one knee and push it out to the side above your foot. Keep the other leg straight with your knee pointing up and heel on the floor. This is called a lunge.

Go as far as you are comfortable. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and return to the standing position. Repeat on each leg 10 times.

These lunges target your hip adductor muscles.

Squat Power Stretch. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your torso straight, slowly lower your hips down.

Keep your knees over your feet. Stop if you feel discomfort and don’t go lower than your knees. You may put your hands on your inner thighs and gently push outwards.

Hold for a few 20 to 30 seconds and then rise back up. Repeat 3 times per session. Check with your healthcare practitioner before doing this exercise.

Bent Knee Adductor Stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the surface. You will need a small medicine ball.

Place the ball between your knees and squeeze your knees toward each other for 5 seconds. Try to increase the number of repetitions over time.

Straight Leg Adductor Exercise. Adductor muscles move the leg away from the midline. This exercise works to strengthen adductor muscles.

Lie on your back with your legs straight and a medicine ball between your ankles. Squeeze your ankles toward each other for about 5 seconds. Do this exercise 10 times.

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Individuals who exercise often experience soreness or injuries. When the problem causes great discomfort or activity limitations, it’s time to see a healthcare professional.

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