Groin strain, also called adductor strains, are injuries to your adductor muscles, a group of muscles on your inner thigh, or the tendons that attach to these muscles. These injuries are responsible for between 10% and 11% of all injuries faced by professional hockey players. Here are three things hockey players need to know about groin strains.
How does hockey cause groin strains?
Groin strains occur when too much stress is put on the adductor muscles or the adductor tendons. This stress can stretch or tear the tendons or muscles. The main cause of groin strains in athletes is changing direction suddenly. If you're skating at high speed down the ice and need to quickly shift directions to follow the puck, you could suffer a groin strain. Sudden acceleration or being checked by another player can also put enough stress on your adductors to cause a groin strain.
What are the symptoms of groin strains?
The symptoms of groin strains vary based on the severity of the damage. If your sprain is mild, you'll feel pain in your inner thigh, but you'll still be able to move and you'll only notice a minor loss of strength in the affected leg. Moderate sprains are also painful, and cause a partial loss of both strength and function. If you experience a severe strain, you'll have severe pain in your thigh and won't be able to use the affected muscles at all.
If you think you have a groin strain, getting treatment is very important. If groin strains are left untreated, the pain can become chronic. Chronic groin pain can permanently sideline your hockey career.
How are groin strains treated?
The treatment plan for groin strains is very similar, regardless of whether they're minor or severe. Rest is very important, and while you're resting, you may want to apply ice or compression to your sore groin to help control swelling. In cases of severe groin strains, you may need to use crutches to get around during your rest period.
Once you're pain free, you can start performing strengthening and stretching exercises with your physiotherapist. If your strain is minor, this can begin within five days of your injury, but if your strain is severe, it could be two weeks before you can start physiotherapy.
Expect to perform gentle stretches and static muscle contractions at first, and later, you'll start doing more advanced exercises. Your physiotherapist will help you slowly ease back into hockey. It can take anywhere between one and twelve weeks to return to sports after a groin strain, depending on the severity of the strain.
If you think you strained your groin, stop playing hockey and seek the advice of a sports medicine doctor.