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Groin Strain

A groin strain or a groin pull is a tear or rupture to any one of the adductor muscles resulting in inner thigh pain. A pulled groin muscle can range from very mild to completely debilitating. We explain the symptoms, treatment and rehabilitation exercises to help recover from a groin strain in the shortest possible time.


Symptoms of an acute groin strain typically include a sudden sharp pain in the groin area, either in the belly of the muscle or higher. The athlete may or may not be able to play on depending on how bad it is. There may also be rapid swelling followed by bruising. Groin strains are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on the extent of the injury.

Groin strain explained

Adductor magnus muscle

Pain in the groin can come from a number of causes and can be gradual onset or sudden onset. If an acute sudden onset groin injury is not treated properly it is prone to recurring and causing long term groin pain.

There are five groin muscles or adductor muscles. The pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus are known as the short adductors which go from the pelvis to the thigh bone) and the gracilis and adductor magnus (long adductors which go from the pelvis to the knee).

The main function of the adductors is to pull the legs back towards the midline, a movement called adduction. In the real world they are used to stabilize and control the movement of the legs when running, walking, sprinting, playing football, horse riding, hurdling and any sport which requires fast changes in direction.

Adductor brevis muscleA rupture or tear in the muscle usually occurs when sprinting, changing direction or in rapid movements of the leg against resistance such as kicking a ball. This is especially likely if a thorough warm-up has not been undertaken first! Repetitive overuse of the groin muscles may result in adductor tendinopathy or inflammation of the groin.


Immediate treatment for a groin strain should be to apply cold therapy and compression as soon as possible to limit bleeding and swelling. The sooner a cold compress is applied to a strained groin the faster the rehabilitation process can begin. A groin support or compression bandage can be worn to protect the area from further injury and aid recovery. After the initial acute stage a gradual rehabilitation program consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises should begin.

A professional therapist may apply a groin support strapping in the acute stage as well as during rehabilitation to support the muscles. They may apply ultrasound or other electrotherapy to help reduce pain and swelling. After the acute stage sports massage techniques may be used to help restore the injured muscle back to its original condition.

Compiled from a number of sources including expert consultants by Michael Walden

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