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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Groin strains

He whara kūhā

A groin strain refers to pain that comes from one of the five adductor muscles on the inside of your thigh.

Each muscle has a tendon, which attaches it to your leg and pelvis bones. The tendon can become painful as a result of a high-speed movement or a sudden change of direction during sport.

The term used for a painful tendon is tendinopathy, so a groin strain is also known as an adductor tendinopathy.

If you have a groin strain, you'll have pain in the inside of your thigh, up into your groin region. The pain may also travel down to the inside of your lower thigh, depending on which muscle is involved.

Activities that use the muscle will be painful, such as walking, running, kicking, jumping and changing direction. You may also feel pain with activities that stretch the tendon, such as swinging your leg to get in and out of a car or bed.

Preventing groin strains

You can reduce the risk of having a groin strain by doing regular activities to keep your muscles strong and flexible. This could include yoga, tai chi or general stretching and strengthening exercises at home or in the gym.

Whenever you're starting a new sport or training for an event, make sure you start slowly and increase the amount you're doing very gradually. Allow yourself several weeks to reach the level of training you want. This allows your tendons to safely adapt to their new demands.

Diagnosing groin strains

To diagnose a groin strain, your general practice team, physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath will ask you questions about where your pain is and what makes it worse. They will also test the strength of your muscle and tendon by getting you to move your hip while they try to prevent its movement.

Treating groin strains

You may find it helpful to apply ice to the painful area for 10 minutes every two to three hours during the first two days after your pain starts. It might also be helpful to discuss pain medication with your general practice team.

Treating a groin strain involves gradually strengthening the tendon. Your physiotherapist will give you exercises to do. While you're doing the exercises, it's important that you feel the tendon working but it shouldn’t be painful or remain sore afterwards.

While your tendon is recovering, it's important that you rest from any activities that cause pain. You'll gradually be able to restart your sports and activities over a few weeks as the tendon gets strong again.

It may be helpful to see a podiatrist to help with your foot and leg alignment when you're walking or standing.

Self-care for a groin strain

While you're doing strengthening exercises to help your tendon recover, it's important not to do any stretching exercises that move your leg sideways away from your body. It's also a good idea to avoid doing too much too soon.

Gradually restart your activities as the pain allows. When your tendon has recovered, you can safely stretch it again. It’s a good idea to find some regular physical activity that you enjoy doing so you can keep the tendon healthy.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2022.


Page reference: 863338

Review key: HIHIL-240273