Groin pain has many different causes depending on your age – for example changes in the joint in the elderly, and sports or trauma in the younger population. Soccer and hockey are common sports to experience groin pain. An assessment by the physiotherapist for proper rehabilitation is important due to the nature of some groin injuries. For example, younger children who have groin and hip pain with bearing weight could have the femoral neck or growth plate affected. Whereas, for someone who is very active, it would be important to assess how much load the muscles in the hip can handle vs the demands of the sport or job. Other areas to look at would be core, pelvic control, flexibility, warm up routine, and condition of muscles.
A common presumption from the general population would be to stretch out the area that hurts. Due to the aforementioned causes, stretching usually is not the main solution to groin pain especially in people who have had the groin pain for months. An online search brings out a cascade of treatments and stretches to do which are not applicable to everyone with groin pain as a diagnosis has to be made and groin pain is just a symptom not a specific injury. Other differential diagnosis include a hernia or referred pain from the back.
A key part of groin rehabilitation is strengthening and loading key muscles involved in groin injuries – commonly the hip flexors (muscles that bring your knee to your chest), hip abductors (muscles that squeeze your legs together) and abdominals. The rehabilitation process would also depend on the goals an individual wants for example compete in a marathon vs standing and sitting for prolonged periods at work.
Here are 2 strengthening exercises you can start with. If you experience any pain or discomfort while doing them, go and see a physiotherapist for an assessment.
1. Bridging while squeezing ball
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Take a ball or a pillow and squeeze it between your knees. Maintaining this squeeze throughout the entire exercise, lift your hips up keeping them level. Continue to squeeze as you lower back to the start position. Focus on squeezing tight till you feel the inside of your groin working.
Do this 10x with a short 3 second hold at the top of the bridge.
2. Hip flexion in standing holding on to a chair.
Bend your symptomatic leg, pulling the knee up towards you then hold at the top. Control the movement back to the start position. Be careful not to twist your pelvis or body as you do this movement.
If this is too easy, tie a band around your ankles and Stand with a band around your ankles and pull up against the resistance of the band.
Do this 10x with a 3 second hold at the top of the movement.