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Adductor strains common in sports that involve sudden sharp changes in direction, sprinting and kicking sports, such as soccer and AFL.


Groin Strains in Sport

groin strains in sports rehab osteo

Groin injury in Sport

What is a groin strain?

A groin injury is essentially a muscle strain of the adductor muscles. The adductor muscles are a group of muscles located on the inside of the thigh, which help bring your legs together. These muscles are commonly strained in sports that involve sudden sharp changes in direction, sprinting and kicking sports, such as soccer and AFL. 

A muscle strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. Any of the six muscles of the adductor muscle group can be involved: the adductor longus, magnus, and brevis and the gracilis, obturator externus, and pectineus. However, the adductor longus is the most commonly injured during sporting activity.


addcuctor groin muscle strain rehab osteo

The degree of injury can be classified from Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3 muscle strains:

  • Grade 1 adductor muscle strain involves damage to a small number of fibres, causing localised pain but only minimal loss of strength and minimal restriction of motion.
  • Grade 2 injury is a tear of a significant number of muscle fibres causing pain and swelling that compromises strength of the muscle but does not include complete loss of strength and function.
  • Grade 3 injury is a complete rupture of the muscles and complete loss of muscle function.


Groin Strain Common Symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness either along the inner side of your thigh or in the groin area. 
  • Pain bringing/squeezing your legs together, and you may also have pain when lifting your knee.
  • Pain sprinting or rapidly changing direction. 

It is important that any pain in the groin area is thoroughly investigated by a health professional to establish the cause of your injury as groin pain is not always associated with a strain of the adductor muscles.
At Wellness Osteo we achieve this through a thorough case history, clinical examination, and in some cases referral for further imaging.

This can be useful in differentiating groin strains from lumbar disc pathologies, piriformis syndrome, sacro-iliac-joint syndrome, femoral acetabular impingement syndrome and osteitis pubis, conditions that can all refer pain into the groin.


Prevalence in sport:

Adductor strains are a common injury in sports. Thought to account for 11% of all injuries in soccer, these injuries have been linked to hip muscle weakness, previous injury to the area, pre-season practice sessions, and level of experience in activity.

Players tested in the pre-season who had either decreased hip abduction range of motion or who had injured their groin previously, were found more likely to sustain groin strains throughout the season.
This is seen in the AFL where recurrence rates of groin strains are 32%.


How osteopaths treat it:

At Wellness Osteo we take a multifaceted approach when treating adductor strains, focusing on several factors including:

  • In the first 48-72 hours: follow the first aid principles of PEACE
    P – Protection, Avoid activities and movements that increase pain during the first few days.
    E – Elevation, elevate the injured limb higher than the heart as often as possible.
    A – Avoid taking Anti-inflammatory medications as they reduce tissue healing. Avoid icing.
    C – Compression, use elastic bandage or taping to reduce swelling.
    E – Education, your body knows best. Avoid unnecessary passive treatments and medical investigations and let nature play its role. 
  • After 72 hours: Follow the principles of LOVE
    L – Load, let pain guide your gradual return to normal activities.
    O – Optimism, condition your brain for optimal recovery by being confident and positive.
    V – Vascularisation, pain free cardiovascular activities increase blood flow, repairing tissues.
    E – Exercise, Restore mobility, strength and proprioception by adopting an active approach to recovery.
  • Manual therapy such as dry needling, stretching, joint mobilisation, and taping can be used to promote effective scar tissue formation, optimize pain and give you the confidence to move again. 
  • Individual specific rehabilitation programs: Tailored for each patient based on their own needs to gain back full function and strength to the area.  
  • Improving coordination: through neuromuscular rehabilitation exercises.
  • Addressing any predisposing factors: maintain or improve pelvic stability, improve posture, ergonomics, muscle imbalances, and therefore prevent further injury, and aid in the return to sport.


Return to sport 

The major goal of exercise rehabilitation is to return to full function and get back to the sport you love as soon and as safely as possible. 

A staggered return to sports and sports specific drills are the most effective way of gradually increasing stresses on the adductor muscle to eventually allow for a full return to your sport and back to full function. 

If you return to your sport too soon you may reinjure the area and therefore worsen your injury.

Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate, but with the use of an evidence-based rehabilitation program, like the ones we use at Wellness Osteo, athletes/patients often return to sports and prevent further episodes.

One strategy we use at Wellness Osteo to treat groin strains is the Copenhagen plank, which is considered the gold standard rehabilitation exercises for groin injuries, and is demonstrated in the video below. This exercise has different levels of difficulty, and should therefore not be undertaken without first consulting your health care professional.