Three months ago I was on vacation and apparently pulled a groin muscle while playing soccer with some friends on the beach. I had intense pain inside of my right upper thigh that forced me to stop running until I fully recovered, which took me a couple of weeks.
That’s when I decided to write something about the subject, so today I’m going to explain the symptoms, treatment and prevention measures to help you with groin strains.
Therefore, if you have been experiencing this nagging pain in your inner thigh and want to learn more about how to treat and prevent it for good, then keep on reading.
Groin Strains – The Injury Process
A groin strain occurs when there is a rupture or ortear to any of the adductor muscles that help connect your pelvis and thighbone, leading to inner thigh pain and swelling.
Overuse and a lack of a proper warm-up are the chief culprits behind groin-pull injuries. In most cases, this injury happens from a sudden contraction of the muscles or from overuse of the groin muscles.
Groin injures comprise roughly 5 percent of all sports injuries and they are not that common among runners. Usually, this is a very common injury in athletes in sports that require a lot of pivoting and changing directions, such as martial arts practitioners, soccer and hockey players, skiers, and Olympic weightlifters.
Not all groin strains are created equal. They can range from very mild to utterly unbearable. But when they happen to a runner, they can be really debilitating. They can even stop you in your tracks, and force you to back off from running for days, maybe even weeks.
Image Credit – DSC0811 via Flickr
The main symptom is usually a sudden and sharp pain in the groins area, either in the center of the belly of the muscle or higher. There can also be some rapid swelling followed by bruising and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh.
Here are a few pointers to quickly diagnose yourself:
- The pain is worse when you bring your legs together.
- The pain is worse when you do any sort of activity that requires the raising of the knee, such as walking, climbing the stairs and running.
- You can also experience a snapping or popping feeling during the injury, followed by intense pain.
Treating Groin Strain
In most cases, a groin strain will usually heal on its won. However, to speed the healing, you can do the following:
R.I.C.E. (standing for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) should be your first treatment measure in the first 48 to 72 hours following a groin pull. This method can help you limit the bleeding and reduce the swelling and pain associated with muscle injuries.
But that’s not always the case. If this measure didn’t help, you may need to see your physician, even consider surgery if all other options proved ineffective.
How much recovery you need depends on, of course, how severely injured you were. In most cases a mild groin pull can take up to 2 to 4 weeks to heal with proper rest, therapy and the proper stretch and strength work.
Nonetheless, for serious injuries, the recovery time can take up to two to three months, or even more following a surgery.
As a general guideline, take as many rest days as you need, but nothing shorter than a week.
Cold therapy can help you reduce swelling and ease pain. So ice the injured thigh for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times a day, for as long there is pain and tenderness.
For more support, you can also use an elastic bandage a special precut groin tape, like Scrip Spidertech Tape, to protect and support your injured thigh.
Take Anti-inflammatory painkillers
In cases of severe pain, you can always reach for an over-the-counter-anti-inflammatory pill to reduce pain and inflammation for up to a week after the injury Drugs like Aleve, Advil, or Motrin are some of the best options. But use take sparingly and never get addicted to them.
After proper rest, you should start doing a number of stretches, especially the adductor muscle, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and the lower abdominals.
Just don’t start this too aggressively; otherwise you risk further damaging your groin.
In other words, start the stretching as long as you can do it without pain. If there is pain involved, then stop and wait.
Stretching can help you relax the muscle, prevent scar tissue formation and promote blood flow to the injured area, which is vital for a speed recovery.
Do the stretching at least a couple of time day in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Here are the 3 stretches you need.
Standing Adductor stretch
The Inner Thigh Stretch
The Wall Sit Hamstring stretch
Strengthening the muscles of your thighs—especially the adductor muscles—is a vital element of rehabilitation. If your thighs muscles lack the proper strength, then the muscle will be prone to re-injury, and you don’t want that. Prevention is always better than a cure.
Your main goal with strength training is to gradually increase the load through muscles.
Start with static or isometric exercises, then progress to dynamic strength exercises with a resistance band, then after you building enough strength, you can move onto runners strength specific workouts to help you build more strength and power in the lower body.
Remember if it’s painful, then stop and wait. You can’t rush it here, unless you really want to hurt yourself.
Here are the three strength exercises you need.
The Isometric hip flexion
Straight Leg Raises
Return to Running
Going back to running after a groin strain, or any other type of injury, is a gradual process.
A full return to your previous running routine, may take 2 weeks or more, depending, of course, on how severely you were injured and the speed of your recovery. Different people recover at different speeds.
You can start running again immediately during the recovery phase as long as it’s pain-free.
Do not go straight back to hill repeats and sprint intervals immediately but slowly build it up from slow and pain-free jogging. When you can jog for 20 to 30 minutes without pain, then you can up the ante and begin to speed it up.
Plus, keep a keen eye on sings of tenderness or pain, and back off from running if any develops. Keep in mind that any intense work can undo the treatment and further damage your groin.
Prevention of Groin Strains While Running
Here are some of the measures you need to take to prevent groin strains over the long haul.
As a runner, you can prevent groin strains by making sure to start all of your runs with a proper warm-up that includes 5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging. A proper warm-up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for intense activity, helping you ward off discomfort and injury.
If you are doing any form of intense running, such as sprint or hill repeats, make sure also to do dynamic warm-up exercises to fire up your muscles and get your body ready for the intense work ahead.
Here is the dynamic warm-up you will need.
Stretch and Strengthen Regularly
Stretching will not only help you recover faster, it can also help you bulletproof your body against groin strains and other running injuries.
Flexible and strong muscles and tendons are vital in the prevention of most strain injuries, as well as other overuse injuries. If your muscles are too tight, then it’s easy for those muscles to be overstretched beyond their natural range of motion, leading to sprains, strains, and pulled muscles.
On the hand, strength training can help you build a powerful and more resilient body that can better withstand the high impact nature of running over the long haul.
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See, treating and preventing groin strains while running is not that hard once you learn how to do it right.
In the meantime thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Tom Levold via Flickr