What is it
Groin injuries are some of the most common in sport. They can come about by overstretching, overuse, or by carrying the workload of muscles that are not working properly. It can cause pain at the hip, inside of the leg or even the knee due to its anatomy. Like most injuries, the severity depends on how long the injury will take to heal, so it is important to get it assessed early in order to get you back to pain free movement as quickly as possible.
How is it assessed
The therapist will first ask how and when the injury occured to try to gain a good idea of the type of injury that has occurred. They will then feel around the area of pain to determine which muscles could first be involved, before ruling them out one by one. A couple of example tests that may be used for a groin injury are groin squeezes to see if this brings on the pain, or a straight leg raise against some small force with the leg rotated outwards. Both of these target the groin muscles and pain will suggest that it is highly likely that these are the muscles involved. The therapist may also take some strength scores in order to determine whether this injury could be caused by weakness to other muscles which forces the groin muscles to do more work than they should.
- The first step in the rehabilitation process is to carry out some isometric exercises on these muscles. This is where the muscle is working but not moving, this can come in the form of placing a ball between your knees and squeezing them together for a few seconds. Another exercise could be to place a band around your ankle and a stable surface such as a table or bannister, step away from the anchor surface so it feels like it is pulling you back but don’t let your leg move, you can hold this for 5-10 seconds.
- The next set of exercises would be what are known as eccentric exercises, this is where the muscle is lengthening under tension and is an excellent way to build strength. An example exercise is one similar to the banded exercise in isometrics, instead of holding your leg still, you let it pull you back towards the anchor point, but you control this. By counting to 5 before you get the end of range allows the muscle to be controlling the movement and working hard.
- After eccentric movements, we move onto concentric exercises. This is where the muscle is shortened under tension. An example of this is a banded pull. Whereas with the isometric and eccentric, we pull the band out to tension with our hands, this time we allow the groin muscles to do this. This puts a lot of work through the muscles and helps to make them stronger.
- A final exercise we can do is what is known as a “Copenhagen”. This is where you lie on your side, and your leg is raised up on a bench, or a box. From here you pull yourself up so only your elbow is on the floor and hold. Whilst this is an isometric exercise, this puts a lot of demand on the groin muscles and is a very good final exercise to strengthen them.
- From here the therapist would look towards sport specific movements like change of direction, and sprinting, which require a lot of work and control from the groin muscles. Once this is all done, you can ease back into training and playing sports again.