If you have participated in gymnastics, soccer, or other sports involving twisting, kicking, jumping, or cutting, you may have experienced some pain in your groin area at some point in time, or have had a teammate with similar symptoms. A groin strain is an injury to the muscle tendon unit of the adductor tendon or its attachment to the pubic bone. This occurs because of a strong eccentric, or lengthening, contraction of the adductor musculature.
To identify if a groin strain may be present, we utilize the adductor squeeze test in the clinic. This is performed by having the patient lie on their back with knees bent, and resisting the motion of the knees moving towards each other. If your pain is reproduced at the site of your normal pain, then this is most likely an adductor, or groin, strain.
Subsequent groin strains may occur, resulting in a recurrent problem. Therefore preventative exercises are vital to prevent recurrence and allow a safe return to sports. After the initial injury has occurred, it is important to initially working on decreasing pain, increasing ROM and then increasing strength. As all of these goals are met, we work on higher-level strengthening activities involving the whole kinetic chain (ankles, knees, hips, and core) to ensure a safe and effective return to functional activities/sports.
Check out our four favorite exercises in this video with descriptions below:
Clamshells: There are many variations and progressions of this classic exercise, but we focus on the original version of this exercise to not only strengthen the gluteus medius (antagonist to adductor group), but also to work on the eccentric contraction of the adductors. This exercise is performed by lying on your side with your involved hip on top, both knees and hips slightly bent. While keeping your ankles together, lift your top knee without rolling your hips backward, and then slowly lower the knee back down. Perform 3 sets of 10, using a thera-loop for increased resistance.
Lateral squat walks: The exercise begins with a band around the ankle and side stepping with knees slightly bent, core engaged, and keeping hips level during the exercise. If you have a right groin strain and you side-step to the left, you are performing an eccentric contraction of your right groin muscle. This is a great exercise for the entire kinetic chain!
Planks: Because the adductors attach to the pubic bone, they are not only vital in lower extremity motion and control, but also in pelvic/core stabilization. Therefore, planks are a great exercise for core strength and endurance. Working on dropping your hips, engaging your glutes, and performing deep breaths throughout this exercise for maximal benefit.
Plank walks: This is a great combination and progression of the squat walks and planks. You are getting a great core activation by performing the plank, and then by side stepping (opposite arm and leg movement), you are getting a good eccentric contraction of the adductors while getting a great activation of pretty much every muscle in your body (especially core!).
For any questions or concerns on groin strains, or any other injuries, please contact us at any of our seven clinical locations!