Groin Injuries - Pains and Pulls
The groin, described as the junction between the lower limbs and torso, is vulnerable to many different injuries. Hernias, stress fractures, and avulsion fractures are all common injuries that affect the groin, but for this issue we'll be focusing on one of the most common groin injuries; groin pull or groin strain.
What is a Groin Pull?
Depending on the severity of your groin injury, a groin pull can range from a slight stretching, to a complete rupture of the muscles that attach the pubic (pelvis) bone to the thigh (femur) bone.
A groin pull or strain specifically affects the "Adductor" muscles. (Adductor; meaning, moves part closer to the midline, or middle of the body) These muscles are located on the inside of the thigh, and help to bring the legs together.
The adductor muscles consist of "Adductor Brevis", "Adductor Magnus" and "Adductor Longus," all of which are displayed in the picture to the right. Adductor Longus has been cut to display the muscles underneath.
Of these three, it is Adductor Longus that is most susceptible to injury, and the most common place of injury on Adductor Longus is the point at which the muscle and tendon attach to the femur (thigh) bone.
What Causes a Groin Pull?
Competitors that participate in sports that require a lot of running or rapid change in direction are most susceptible to groin injuries. Other activities like kicking, jumping and rapid acceleration or deceleration also place a lot of strain on the groin muscles.
Another activity that puts a lot of strain on the groin is any movement that results in a sudden pressure being applied. Such as a fall, landing awkwardly, twisting, or bending while stress is applied to the groin muscles.
How to Prevent a Groin Pull?
The basis of prevention comes down to two simple factors. A thorough warm-up and physical conditioning, ie: flexibility & strength.
Firstly, a thorough and correct warm up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for any activity to come. Click here for a detailed explanation of how, why and when to perform your warm up.
Secondly, flexible muscles and tendons are extremely important in the prevention of most strain or sprain injuries. When muscles and tendons are tight and stiff, it is quite easy for those muscles and tendons to push beyond their natural range of movement, which can cause strains, sprains, and pulled muscles. To keep your muscles and tendons flexible and supple, it is important to undertake a structured stretching routine.
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.
And thirdly, strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the groin will also help to prevent a groin injury. There are a number of specific strengthening exercises you can do for these muscles, like cable adductions and machine adductions.
Article by Brad Walker. Brad is an internationally recognized stretching and sports injury consultant with 20 years of practical experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He has worked with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention. Brad is also the author of The Stretching Handbook, The Anatomy of Stretching and The Anatomy of Sports Injuries.
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