The infamous hockey groin strain. I had the opportunity to experience such an injury during my minor hockey career. I can still remember the nagging inner thigh pain that would rear its ugly head now and again after a tight turn, a sudden movement or a long stride. This injury managed to sideline me for much longer than I would like to admit. It also managed to recur and sideline me throughout the season. I know now, due to my physiotherapy education, that I should have dealt with the injury and sought out treatment sooner and likely I would have been back to optimal health much quicker.
Groin strains are unfortunately one of the most common injuries that can occur in hockey players. Due to the nature of the sport and the movement patterns involved, the muscles of the inner thigh are vulnerable to injury. Groin strains are also common in sports such as skiing, football and track and field.
Groin strains involve one or more of the muscles on the inner thigh. There are five of these muscles also known as adductors and they include adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis and pectineus. These muscles run from the pelvis to the femur or thigh bone and are primarily involved in bringing the leg towards midline. A strain means that a tear to the fibres of the muscle has occurred. Muscle strains can range from grade 1 to grade 3 and the difference between them is as follows:
Grade 1 strain (mild): damage to a small number of muscle fibres
Grade 2 strain (moderate): more extensive damage with a significant amount of muscle fibres torn but not a complete tear.
Grade 3 strain (severe): a complete tear of the muscle has occurred and surgery is required.
Signs and Symptoms of a groin strain include:
– Pain with the inward movement of the leg, bending of the hip or raising of the knee
– Mild to severe pain (depending on the grade of the strain) on the inside of the leg with the above described movements, walking or while pressing on the muscle
– Pain with stretching of the inner thigh
– A feeling of tightness
– May notice bruising or swelling
In the acute stage muscle strains should be treated using the “PRICE” method: protection of the injured area, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Treatment following this acute management should involve consulting your local therapist to confirm the diagnosis (inguinal hernias can be misinterpreted as a groin strain) and to develop a program consisting of appropriate stretches, strengthening and sport specific reconditioning. This will ensure a quicker and long term return to sport with a reduced chance of recurrence. I eventually did seek treatment from a physiotherapist and took part in a rehabilitation program which got me back on the ice.
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