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The early stage of rehab for a groin pull (often a strain adductor longus muscle) will consist of three phases:
-Pain free muscle activation
-Soft tissue mobilization.
While rest is important, it can’t be the only thing you do to really fix the injury. After a day or two of rest we need to do something to kick-start and facilitate the healing process.
Unlike flexibility, research shows that those who sustain a pulled groin often have a strength imbalance in the muscles that surround the hips. This is especially true of athletes who have weaker adductor muscles compared to the lateral hip or abductor muscles. This means that improving the strength of the adductor muscles must be a priority in the prevention and post-injury rehab program.
Initially following an adductor strain, it can be fairly painful to perform any aggressive strengthening to this muscle. So when it comes down to early strengthening, activating the muscle without any movement (called an isometric contraction) can be a great way to kick-start the healing process without placing too much stress on the injured tissues.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and a small ball in between your legs. Squeeze your knees together like you’re going to pop the ball. When you first start these exercises, think about contracting ~50-75% of maximum effort and don’t push through pain! Hold this contraction for five seconds before relaxing. As this becomes easier to perform, start squeezing with more intensity or increase the hold time to 10-15 seconds.
Mobilizing the tissues of the inner thigh can also be a great help for relieving pain and promote proper healing of the injured groin. Lie on your stomach with your injured leg positioned as close to 90° from your torso as possible. Place the foam roller close to your groin, running perpendicular to your injured thigh.
As your pain decreases and strength returns you can then start to slowly reincorporate your normal strength training into your plan!
Takeaway: treating groin pain due to a strained adductor muscle takes a comprehensive approach of rest, early pain free strengthening and soft tissue mobilization. I hope this video was able to help you understand this injury some of the basic components of rehabilitation. If you are unable to find relief with your groin pain after performing these exercises, I recommend going to a medical professional (doctor or physical therapist) to assist in your recovery.
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