The sports rehab protocol for a groin strain can be a fairly difficult process for the injured athlete.
By definition groin strain is a tear of the the adductor muscle of the inner thigh when the muscle is stretched too far.
After all, these injuries can be felt any time that the load bearing muscles of the upper thigh are used, which is just about any time that an individual stands. Most groins strains occur as the result of continuous strain on the muscle during exercise, but most particularly when the athlete jumps, sprints, or changes direction quickly. While most groin strains are mild in nature, they still require proper care from a trained physical therapist.
Muscle strains in the groin are also classified by grades. Grade 1 is mild, Grade 2 is moderate and Grade 3 is severe where the patient has great difficulty weight bearing.
Here we will explore the proper treatment to help recover from this temporarily debilitating injury.
The primary step in sports rehab for a groin strain relies on immobilizing the injured leg and having it examined to determine its severity. Most physical therapists will implement the rest, ice, compression, and elevation process, otherwise known as RICE to reduce pain and swelling.
Therapists during this phase use ultrasound, electrical stimulation and cold laser to decrease muscle inflammation, relax the adductor muscle and prevent scar tissue formation.
Mild stretching of the adductor can be done at this time. Aside from the pain that is felt during the initial five days, in which any activity with the injured groin is ill-advised, the involved muscle experiences a sensation of weakness. Restoring this muscle group to full strength is the primary focus of the second phase of treatment.
As soon as the majority of the swelling has gone down and the immediate risk of re-injuring the groin has passed (usually about one week) the sports rehab phase will begin.
There are two major exercise types that will comprise the recovery phase: limited weight training and progressive stretching techniques. With other leg injuries aggressive stretching can be performed however the more delicate groin muscles must be eased into regaining their former elasticity. The stretches are usually manually assisted and take place on a flat, comfortable surface. This requires working with a physical therapist that can define the limits of safety which is needed for complete recovery.
When it comes to sports rehab, athletes usually stop short of effective treatment due to the pain. With a trained therapist, there is a very low risk of re-injuring the groin.
The weight training aspect of the recovery phase concentrates on adductor and hamstring strengthening. The patient can use specific apparatus to accomplish this. Here the patient can use a stationary bike and perform plyometric exercise routines. This will not only help rebuild the former strength of the inner thigh, but will focus on creating powerful complementary muscle strength. This will prevent the same area from becoming injured once again. It is important to work with a physical therapist for these exercises in order to optimize recovery and prevent the groin muscles from being overworked.
The most important aspect beyond the recovery phase of sports rehab for groin strain is learning how to prevent re-injuring the same area. By continuing the same strengthening exercises for supportive muscle groups, the patient already cuts the risk significantly. Strengthening must include adductor muscle, pelvic stabilization and core. Another way to prevent this injury is to do proper stretching of the adductor, quadriceps and hamstring musculature.
However, the most important prevention advice is to know your body’s limit, by giving proper rest when needed and warming up prior to rigorous exercise or sports activity. Every athlete wants to know how quickly then can get back to playing but this must be determined by the professionals.