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Groin Pain: Dangers & Prevention

Groin pressure is behind only fracture and improvement in terms of time away from the game due to injury. Chiropractor, Dr. Alexander Jimenez investigates in the danger factors for groin injury in sport and what the research says about injury prevention…

Groin injuries and the pain they produce can be a issue for athletes, especially those whose sports involve rapid or lengthening accelerations and decelerations. Groin injury in sports’ exact prevalence is unknown because athletes can play with abdominal pain and the injury goes unreported. Moreover, the incidence can be skewed by overlapping diagnoses. However, studies in this area generally suggest that groin injury accounts for between 2-5percent of sports injury(1). Of these, the most prevalent groin injury in sport is that the adductor strain, which such as in soccer players account for an incidence rate of around 10 percent-18% of groin strains(2,3).

Other studies have indicated that groin strain accounts for approximately 10% of injuries in elite Swedish ice hockey players(4), even whereas Molsa et al reported that pubic breeds accounted for 43 percent of all muscle breeds in elite Finnish ice hockey players(5). Meanwhile, another study showed the prevalence of groin strains in a single National Hockey League (NHL) team was 3.2 strains per 1000 player-game exposures(6) and Emery et al reported that the incidence of adductor strains among 26 US National Hockey League teams in the NHL rose from 2003 to 2009, with the rate of injury greatest during the preseason(7).

Injury Diagnosis

The hip region is made up of a number of different structures that interact (see Figure 1). These include the pubic bones and symphysis, musculature, tendons, aponeuroses, ligaments, the inguinal canal, hip joint etc.. Consequently athletes frequently report a pain or pain pattern that can not be assigned to a structure. There are a large number of nerves at the region responsible for providing which support movement and sensation. Any compression of these nerves (entrapment syndrome) can lead to important stress-related pain(9,10).

In addition to a detailed clinical Investigation, clinicians therefore require a good understanding of the (complicated) anatomy of the groin and pelvic area, and an understanding of the discussion of structures that are affected. Furthermore diagnostics are extremely helpful for a definitive diagnosis connected to the differential causes that are numerous. Table 1 gives a summary of possible differential diagnoses where a distinction can be made between extra- articular causes (by way of example muscle and tendon injuries) and also intra-articular sources of nuisance (for instance femoroacetabular impingement and labral lesions)(8,11-13).

Despite the large number of possible muscular injuries of the adductors, differential diagnoses, the muscle and abdominal musculature are the most frequent causes of stomach pain in sportsmen and women. As an instance, a 2009 study appeared at groin strain in elite European footballers that were looking for 23 of the best UEFA teams(14). Out of the 628 instances of coronary strain, 399 (63.5percent) resulted from adductor accidents, while injury to the iliopsoas muscle accounted for 52 (8.2%) cases — a combined total of nearly 7% of those reported gut injuries. More generally, studies indicate that among most competitive athletes between the ages of 20 and 30, the myotendinous junction is that the largely such as website for muscle tears(8,15).

Danger Factors

On the basis that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, it’s pertinent to ask what would be the risk factors that predispose an athlete to groin injury? In a 2013 paper, Bruckner et al indicated that there are several things which can predispose athletes to develop a groin injury(16). The researchers categorized these variables as intrinsic and extrinsic (see Table 2). It follows that conditioning programs can play an important role or really, a program aim at future prevention and rapid recovery — something we’ll return to soon.

There is certainly evidence in the literature showing an association between flexibility or strength and breeds in various populations that are athletic. As an instance, in a study into footballers, researchers discovered decreased pre-season hip abduction range of motion in players who then continued groin strains, compared with uninjured gamers(17).

In hockey players that are professional, adductor muscle strength has been connected with a muscle strain that was subsequent. By way of example, US researchers discovered that pre-season hip adduction power was 18% lower in NHL players who then continued groin strains, compared with the uninjured players(6). The hip adduction: abduction strength ratio was also significantly different between the 2 groups; in the players who sustained a groin strain, pre-season adduction: abduction strength ratio was lower on the side that subsequently sustained a groin strain (as compared with the uninjured side). Adduction strength was 86\% of abduction power on the side that is uninjured but just 70% of abduction power on the side that is.

Another research on adductor strains in Ice hockey players showed that players who practiced throughout the off-season were not as likely to sustain a groin injury(18). In this analysis, an additional risk factor was that the existence of a previous adductor strain — consistent with a study to Australian Rules football players, in which researchers reported a 32% re-injury speed(19).

At a 2007 study, investigators conducted a systemic evaluation of this literature for risk factors in groin injury(20). They reasoned that there was lack of game specificity of coaching and training in addition to support for increased abductor into adductor strength ratios and an association of earlier injury, as risk factors in groin strain injury . They also said that onset or heart muscle fatigue of abdominal muscle recruitment that was transversus might boost the risk of strain injury. When it came to sport or age experience, in addition to levels of length and adductor strength, the evidence to support a causal association was weak.

Coming up to date review published earlier this year assessed the signs for injury risk factors across a broad ranges of sports(21). The researchers identified 2521 potentially research, of which 29 were contained and scored. The investigators reasoned that These factors are related to Groin injury: a gut injury, more elite levels of drama hip adductor strength (absolute and relative to the hip abductors), and also lower levels of sport- specific training.


From the introduction to this report we looked at grain strain incidence. To focus purely on the incidence of the injury provides an incomplete picture of its effect because the morbidity attached to chronic groin pain signifies it’s behind fracture and joint reconstruction. That being true, any strategies that can help stop or decrease the danger of groin strain are invaluable.

In a recent review on sport-induced groin strain injuries, researchers proposed a range of extrinsic and intrinsic factors in the progression of groin pain (see Table 2)(26).) It follows therefore that any prevention program should try and tackle one or more of those factors. Given that adductor injury accounts for a substantial percentage of groin injuries general, it is pertinent to ask whether adductor strength training might help.

A study on strength training to stop adductor breeds in professional ice hockey players produced favorable results(27). Before the 2000 and 2001 seasons, professional gamers were strength tested. Thirty three of the 58 players were classified as at risk, using an adduction: abduction strength ratio of less than 0.8 and were placed on a intervention program consisting of strengthening and functional exercises aimed at increasing adductor strength. Injuries were tracked over the course of both seasons and the results demonstrated that harm incidence was 0.71 adductor strains per 1000 player-game exposures (approximately 2% of injuries). This compared with a pre-intervention harm rate of 3.2 per 1000 player-game exposures (roughly 8% of all injuries — 4 times higher). The validity of this intervention is supported by the fact that the pre-intervention injury rate in this study seems is consistent with that in other studies on groin strain injury in ice hockey players(28).

In footballers meanwhile, Junge et al showed a generalized conditioning program was appropriate for injury prevention in young males of diverse skill levels(29). The program was made up to improve endurance, reaction time, coordination extremity stability, plus strength and flexibility of the back, hip, and lower extremities. In addition to training harms, overuse injuries that were 41 percent fewer and nearly 50% fewer injuries, this program resulted in no groin accidents over the course of an entire year.

Further evidence for the advantages of strength training comes from a 1999 study on athletes(25). It found that 8-12 months of an strengthening program proved effective in treating chronic stomach strains. The program consisted on a slide board of resistive adduction and abduction exercises, balance training, abdominal strengthening, and movements. This was compared to a physical therapy program stretching, which was ineffective.

A good instance of the kind of conditioning program that appears to help groin strain prevention in athletes who suffer recurring groin injuries is shown in table 3(30). The example given is for ice hockey players but can be adapted (at the sports- specific conditioning phase) to other sports too. Different modalities are combined by this treatment program: passive treatment accompanied by an active training program, which highlights resistive exercises. Other studies provide solid evidence that this method of prevention and rehabilitation produces positive results(31,32).

Warm Ups & Their Role

One element of groin strain prevention which might also be significant is the proper warm up. Although there’s a dearth of groin-injury particular studies into warm up, a 2004 research on 315 adult male professional footballers in US Major League Soccer provides a valuable insight(30). In an effort a thorough 20-minute warm-up application was designed as an alternative to a traditional warm-up program.

This warm up program was used 2-3 days per week. The players were registered into one of two groups:
  • Group 1 — 106 participants who conducted the groin injury prevention warm up before coaching and enjoying;

  • Group 2 — 209 participants who functioned as the matched control group (age, gender, ability) and who continued with their usual warm-up routines
The program consisted of a combination of dynamic stretching, core strengthening, and rectal proprioceptive exercises to promote a neutral pelvis during dynamic activities employing the lumbar paraspinals, multifidus, rectus abdominus, transversus, internal and external obliques, abductors, adductors, and hip external and internal rotators.

The results demonstrated that the overall incidence of groin injuries occurring over the span of the following season in the intervention group had been 0.44 injuries per 1000 hours of sport practiced. This contrasted with a rate of 0.61 accidents per 1000 hours in the control group — ie a reduction of 28 percent. The incidence of athletes requiring spinal operation in the intervention group was lower at 0.13 per 1000 hours, compared with the control group prevalence of 0.18 per 1000 hours likewise, a decrease of 28 percent.

Summary & Conclusion

Groin injuries in athletes therefore are a significant cause of missed time out of sport, and length a vast range of conditions. To make things worse, once a groin injury has happened, an athlete can be at increased risk from a groin injury. The good thing is that many common groin injuries (eg involving the adductor muscles) respond well to power and conditioning applications — both as part of a post-injury rehab program and concerning prevention. These programs should be aim to present passive treatment, quickly followed by an active exercise program emphasizing eccentric resistive exercises The evidence also indicates that warming up using a blend of dynamic stretching, core strengthening, and pelvic proprioceptive exercises can significantly lower the risk of injury in athletes — even people with no previous history of coronary injury.

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The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to contact us. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN* email: phone: 915-850-0900 Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*