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Massage Therapy, Sports Therapy
4 common causes of sports-related groin injuries and how massage therapy can help
March 29, 2019 | by Lalita Kuehn, Fortius Massage Therapist

Chances are, if you play sports, you will at some point experience a groin injury that sidelines you from play.

While prevention is the best medicine, Registered Massage Therapy can help get you back on track after sustaining a sports-related groin injury.

There can be several different causes of groin pain and it is possible to experience two or more simultaneously. A thorough assessment can help identify the source. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are the best ways to ensure a rapid recovery.

Here are four of the most common causes of sports related groin-injuries you should know about:

Adductor Muscle Strain

The adductor muscles are a large group of muscles at the inner thigh which bring the leg toward the midline. Strain in this muscle group is usually characterized by sudden onset of pain due to muscles being forcibly stretched while they are contracting, as with sports involving rapid direction and speed changes or contact with other players (soccer, hockey, basketball). Pain is usually felt at the inner thigh/groin area.

Hip Flexor Muscle Strain

The hip flexors are another group of muscles at the front of the pelvis and thigh that bring the knee toward your chest. They are frequently injured in sports that involve jumping, sprinting and kicking (martial arts, dance, sprinting, hurdles) or if the leg gets caught behind while the body continues to move forward. Pain may be felt at the groin and/or front of the hip.

Athletic Pubalgia (Sports Hernia)

Commonly known as ‘Sports Hernia’, Athletic Pubalgia is a strain or slight tearing of the abdominal muscles that attach onto the superior surface of the pubic bone. It usually causes pain that improves with rest but gets worse when returning to sport. There is no visible bulge in the groin region as with true inguinal hernia, which usually requires surgical repair.

Osteitis Pubis

Osteitis Pubis is described as chronic inflammation at the pubic symphysis joint, which joins the right and left sides of the pubic bone. It is characterized by pain, tenderness and sometimes separation at the pubic symphysis joint, and may be caused by the pulling forces of the abdominal muscles or adductor muscles. This injury is sometimes seen in long-distance runners or with training overload – too much, too soon.

Risk Factors for Groin Injury

As mentioned above, prevention is the best medicine. Knowing these risk factors in advance can ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent an injury from occurring:

  • Previous groin injury
  • Inadequate warm-up
  • Weak or de-conditioned muscles
  • Overuse or muscle fatigue
  • Age (growth spurt/older adult)
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Biomechanical issues such as leg length discrepancy or muscle strength imbalance

How Massage Therapy Can Help

Healing time for groin injuries depends on the severity of the injury. Your Massage Therapist can help identify which structures are affected and devise a treatment plan.

Initial measures after injury focus on rest and decreasing pain and swelling (usually 1-3 days). As you begin to resume gentle activity, you can begin with Massage Therapy treatment.

Early treatment consists of increasing circulation, decreasing any remaining swelling and maintaining range of motion. As healing progresses, your Massage Therapist will begin to focus on decreasing any muscle spasms, adhesions or trigger points.

The athlete may have developed some altered gait strategies after injury, and may have developed compensations in surrounding muscle groups. A Massage Therapist can address muscle compensations and imbalances by focusing on muscle length and strength.

Your Massage Therapist will also prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises to aid recovery and prevent future injuries.

In summary, a groin injury is a common experience among athletes in a variety of different sports. While severe muscle tears may require surgical repair, the vast majority of sports related groin injuries can heal with conservative treatment. Your Registered Massage Therapist can help differentiate involved structures, provide hands on therapy, and devise a strength plan to get you back in the game.

THE FORTIUS DIFFERENCE

At Fortius, we believe in an integrated approach to client care. Our massage therapy team operates in collaboration with our multi-disciplinary practitioner team, to ensure you are receiving the best rehabilitation and customized training plan to reach your health, fitness or performance goals.

Visit our massage therapy page to learn more about our services or to book an appointment today!

Sources

Ratray, Fiona. MassageTherapy: An Approach to Treatments. Toronto, Ontario. Massage Therapy Texts and MAVerick Consultants, 1995

Shaw & Hartley, Sports Injuries: Assessment and Treatment Protocol for the Massage Therapist. Canada. Canadian Sports Massage Therapy Association, CSMTA. 2007

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/sports-hernia-athletic-pubalgia/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493166/

https://www.sportsmedtoday.com/hip-flexor-strain-va-133.htm

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/1015/p1405.html