Ask the Expert – Dr. Izzy Lira
Q: I recently ran my first marathon and now have a groin injury. What’s the best way to treat it?
A: The first thing that needs to be established is determining what structures were actually injured; and the severity of the injury. This is done by seeing a health care professional for a complete and thorough examination pertaining to your chief complaint. The health care professional could also rule out any other potential causes for the groin pain other than a musculoskeletal issue, such as swollen lymph nodes, inguinal hernia, pinched nerve, kidney stones, or urinary tract infection to name a few.
The groin is comprised of several muscles; the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis. A groin strain can be classified into different categories:
Grade 1: Mild discomfort with little to no disability or limit to activity.
Grade 2: Moderate discomfort that may impede activities such as running and jumping. Bruising and swelling may also be noted.
Grade 3: Severe injury producing significant pain that impedes the ability to walk in a normal fashion. Swelling, significant bruising, and muscle spasm can all be associated with a grade 3 strain.
Most groin injuries occur as a result of overused muscles, or muscles stretched beyond a normal range. Although far less common, a strain can also occur as a result of direct impact. Groin injuries are often seen in athletes that partake in activities that require explosive speed and quick directional changes. Any kind of repetitive movement or action involving the groin predisposes an individual for a potential strain, especially if the individual isn’t conditioned for the activity.
Some of the common treatments for a groin injury (strain) is to rest and refrain from activity that could potentially aggravate the current condition. Applying ice for 20 minutes at a time—allowing an hour in between—can assist in relieving pain and inflammation. Wearing compression shorts or wrapping the groin with an elastic bandage may provide additional support, relieve some of the pain, and help minimize swelling. In addition to the treatment options above, the use of passive modalities such as electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, or laser can promote a quicker recovery time. The use of a foam roller and myofascial manipulation of the groin area can, and should, be incorporated after the initial (acute) phase has subsided.
It’s imperative, however, that the individual be evaluated and assessed by a healthcare professional for any muscular imbalances that may have led to a predisposition for this, and possibly future injuries.
A Doctor of Chiropractic, Izzy Lira is also a strength and conditioning specialist.
Photography by Richard Salas