A Source of Groin Pain – Adductor Strains and Rehabilitation

An adductor muscle injury is a common cause of pain, especially among athletes – even more specifically in sports with quick changes of direction like soccer and hockey where it is the most common reported injury of all! [i] Often athletes will describe the sensation and area of pain as “groin pain”. This broad umbrella term also includes a bunch of other injuries. It is the job of your physio to identify the specific injured muscle resulting in your groin pain. The adductor muscles are one of these.

The adductor complex is made up of 3 muscles (longus, magnus and brevis) – of which the longus muscle is the most injured due to its structure and function. (To learn more about the adductor complex – Click here!)

The job of all three muscles is to bring the leg towards the midline of the body and in kicking sports to powerfully bring it across the midline, e.g. when completing a pass in soccer. Even with sharp changes of direction the adductors work rapidly to pull the leg inward. Injury can occasionally occur from “overstretching” the tendon, however this is less common.

So, what happens? Typically, athletes will describe a sudden onset of pain whilst completing a specific skill such turning and sprinting off the mark. Most commonly injury to the muscle is sustained high up towards the insertion of the adductor onto the pubic bone at the musculotendinous junction.

Initially after feeling adductor (or less specifically groin) pain, the best management is to stop the activity, ice for 15-20 minutes, compress the area [ii] and head to see the Physio. If adductor strains are managed well from the beginning – the road to recovery is shorter and more successful. Once assessed in the clinic, your physio will provide you with more clarity regarding prognosis and roughly when YOU can expect to return to sport and the steps to recovery. Chronic or repeated strains take longer to get better, which is why it is vital to treat this injury well the first time! Occasionally if the injury is a higher grade, total tendon rupture or poor improvements are made in the clinic then your physio will be able to best advise you what the next steps of action are and can refer on if necessary.

Your Physio will work with you to rehabilitate the injury specific to your clinical findings and provide a prognosis on how long each stage of recovery will take. This will involve a combination of manual therapy to reduce scar tissue building up, swelling and improve flexibility and develop and progress your exercise program to functionally match the demands of your sport or level of activity.

If you think you may have injured your groin, it’s not improving just with rest and time off – then come in and see the Sports Physio team here at Bend + Mend so we can get you back to doing what you love!

References:

[i] Kiel, J. and Kaiser, K., 2022. Adductor Strain. StatPearls Publishing.

[ii] Konstantinos Fousekis, Elias Tsepis, Konstantinos Fousekis, Elias Tsepis. (2021) Minor Soft Tissue Injuries may need PEACE in the Acute Phase, but Moderate and Severe Injuries Require CARE. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (20), 799 – 800.

Lauren Stein

About Lauren Stein

Lauren has a special interest in treating sports injuries stemming from her own experiences and injuries playing soccer and futsal at a high level. Spending hours at the Physio sparked her interest in one day becoming a Physio herself! Lauren has worked on the sidelines with Rugby Union teams and, in addition to helping athletes, she has particular interest in neck and lower back pain as well as knee and ankle injuries. Lauren incorporates both manual therapy techniques and selects specific exercises to best motivate and get speedy improvements for her clients. When she’s out of the clinic you can find Lauren out visiting family in Orange, exploring the restaurants and beaches of Sydney or buried in a good novel.

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