A groin pull, or groin strain, is a type of sports injury in which one of the adductor muscles in the groin area is torn or ruptured. Groin pulls commonly occur when sprinting or rapidly moving the leg against resistance, as when kicking a ball. For minor groin pulls, you may recover with rest, ice and gentle stretching; more severe pulls may require medical treatment, including surgery, which may be necessary if the muscle is torn completely.
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Essential home treatment for a groin pull is described with the acronym RICE, representing rest, ice, compression and elevation. Ice or cold therapy with compression and leg elevation should be applied for 15 minutes every two hours for at least two days after a groin pull. Rest the injury by avoiding activities that cause pain for at least five days and using crutches if it hurts to walk. Another type of treatment for a groin pull is strapping, in which a doctor or sports injury specialist straps medical tape around the injured muscles to help support them and prevent further injury. Other professional treatments for groin pull rehabilitation include sports massage therapy, ultrasound or laser treatment and, in cases where the muscle has torn completely, surgery.
During the rehabilitation stage of treatment for a groin pull -- once you are able to reduce initial pain and swelling from the injury -- you may benefit from stretches that target the adductor muscles and hip flexors. These include: short adductor stretch; long adductor stretch; hip flexor stretch, or forward lunge; and dynamic stretching. Seek professional advice to learn the correct technique for these stretches and to determine whether you are ready to start an exercise rehabilitation program for your groin pull. For minor pulls, in which less than 10 percent of the muscle fibers are damaged, you may be able to start stretching the injury on day 1, as long as stretches don't cause pain; for severe pulls, in which the muscle tissue is partially or fully ruptured, you may have to wait up to two weeks before doing any stretches.
Strengthening exercise is another treatment for a groin pull that complements stretching and should be conducted during the rehabilitation stage. Strengthening exercises are important for preventing re-injury of the muscles. Like stretches for a groin pull, strengthening exercises also target the adductor muscles that connect the groin to the hips and upper legs. They include: static contraction exercises for the adductor muscles, straight leg raise and across and resistance band adduction. As with stretches, learn proper technique from a sports injury therapist and get a medical professional's opinion regarding whether you're ready to begin exercise rehabilitation before you start a strengthening program.
If you have a partial or full muscle rupture, it is critical you seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include severe pain when using the groin muscles, inability to squeeze your legs together and significant bruising and swelling of the inner thigh within the first 24 hours of the injury. It may also be possible to feel a gap or lump in the injured muscles. Remember that not all groin pain is caused by a muscle tear -- a bone injury or fracture, a hernia, kidney stones or other conditions may also cause groin pain. MayoClinic.com advises to rule out a serious health condition by seeing a doctor if you have severe groin pain that doesn't go away after a few days of self-care, or if your groin pain is accompanied by other serious symptoms such as back or abdominal pain, blood in urine or a lump or swelling in or around a testicle.