Groin injuries are very common in the athletic population and account for approximately 10% of visits to sports medicine physicians (1). These injuries are also known as adductor muscle strains and vary in severity. They frequently occur in field based sports, with 31% of all musculoskeletal injuries in professional soccer involving the groin muscles (1). Determining modifiable risk factors, therefore, is critical to keep an athlete on the field and out of the training room.
Previous Groin Injuries
Researchers have determined that the main predictor of groin injury is having had a previous injury to the groin. Soccer players with a history of groin injuries are seven times more likely to have a reoccurrence (1). That number has been reported to be as high as 44% in the ice hockey population. The cause of high re-injury rates may be due to a number of factors. Altered movement patterns, muscle imbalances, and decreased balance can all make an individual more susceptible to injury.
Strength imbalances between the abductor muscles on the outside of the hip and the adductor muscles have been associated with increased injury risk. A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that players who strained an adductor muscle had exhibited 18% less hip adduction strength in the preseason, as compared to players who did not get injured (2).
Decreased Rage of Motion
Range of motion has also been identified as a risk factor for adductor strains. Soccer players with decreased total hip range of motion were more likely to develop groin pain over the course of a season. Decreased range of motion could result in altered biomechanics and compensation patterns during athletic competition.
Prevention through Exercise
To help prevent groin strains altogether, athletes should consider incorporating exercises that strengthen their groin muscles and maintain their range of motion. Examples include exercises that involve the legs moving together against as a resistance band, and dynamic balance activities such as standing and reaching to simulate the movements that are encountered during regular game play.
1) Risk Factors for Groin/Hio Injuries in Field-based Sports: A Systematic Review. Ryan J, Neasa D, Mc Creesh Karen. BR J Sports Med Published Online First: 2014 May: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092263.
2) The Association of Hip Strength and Flexibility With the Incidence of Adductor Muscle Strains in Professional Ice Hockey Players. Tyler T, Nicholas S, Campbell R, McHugh M. Am J Sports Med. 2001 Mar-Apr;29(2):124-8.