Below are examples of exercises that may be used in the rehabilitation of a groin strain. We have split the following into stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and functional or sports specific exercises.
Always seek professional advice before starting a rehabilitation program. The exercises below should form part of a full groin strain rehab program.
Stretching should not be done during the initial acute phase (usually 72 hours but may be longer) but can be started when pain allows
Short adductor stretch - Groin stretches performed with bent knees will target the short groin muscles. Assume the position as shown. Gently press down with the elbows onto the knees to increase the stretch. If it is painful then stop. You should feel a gentle stretching in the inner thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times a day. This is also a good groin stretching exercise to do in between sets of of the gym ball squeeze strengthening exercise.
Play short adductor stretch video.
Long adductor stretch - This groin stretching exercise will stretch the long adductor muscles that attach below the knee. Stand with your feet wide apart as shown, and lean away from the side you are stretching. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times a day. This can also be done in a standing position to target the muscles differently.
Play long adductor stretch video.
Hip flexors - Although strictly not one of the groin stretches this exercise is still important. The adductor muscle assists in flexion of the hip or pulling the knee forwards and upwards. This will stretch the adductor muscles more specifically in the direction they are used for running. Assume the position as shown with one knee on the floor. Gently lean forward to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times a day.
Dynamic stretching - This should be done as the athlete returns to full activity. Dynamic stretching will stretch the muscle whilst it is moving and should be part of any warm up prior to training. Assume the position as shown and gently swing the leg in a relaxed manner. It should not be forced. Forcing the muscle is ballistic stretching and can cause damage to the muscles. Aim for 10 swings on each leg, repeat 3 times a day. A good, relaxed swing is what is required, gradually increasing the height of swing.
Groin strengthening exercises can be begin as soon as pain allows after the initial acute healing phase. Do not do any exercise if it is painful as you may be making the injury worse.
Play all 10 exercises for groin strains exercise video
Isometric or static exercises are where the muscle contracts but there is no actual movement. They are usually the safest strengthening exercise to start with in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Isometric exercises for the adductor muscles should be performed for both the long adductor muscles with the leg straight and the short addcutor muscles with the legs bent. Ideally they should also be done with varying amounts of stretch on the muscles.
Resistance can be applied by a therapist or partner with the hands or medicine balls and gym balls are also very convenient to help with these exercises.
For the long adductors, place a ball between the ankles, with the legs straight and gently press inwards with the legs. Squeeze the legs together and hold for the count of 3, relax and repeat. Start with 1 set of 10 reps and build up to 3 sets of 10 reps done daily.
For the short adductors, bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Place a medicine ball between the knees and press inwards. Hold for count of 5, relax and repeat 10 times initially. Build up to 3 sets of 10 reps once a day. To work the short adductors in the outer range a much larger gym ball can be used. Progress this exercise if required by holding the contractions for up to 10 seconds a time.
Play isometric groin exercise video
Straight leg raise - This is a more advanced exercise. Sit upright with feet rotated outwards. Lift one leg slightly off the ground, move leg outwards whilst keeping off the ground. Return to the middle, then either rest for a couple of seconds, or if strong enough take the leg out again without resting. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. This exercise may be done daily.
This exercise can be progressed further by performing it on a couch or bed with one leg relaxed down the side of the couch. Raise the leg upwards and across the other leg, lower and repeat 10 times. Build up to 3 sets of 10 then increase the resistance by adding a weight to the ankle.
Play Straight leg raise exercise video
Eccentric adduction exercises are more advanced exercises which focus on strengthening the muscle whilst it lengthens rather than shortens as all the previous exercises have done. It is important to see how the muscle is the following day before over doing this exercise as eccentric exercise are more likely to produce muscle soreness.
With the patient sitting down, legs out straight, the therapist slowly moves the leg out to the side and the patient resists the movement but not so much that the leg doesn't move. This can be done very gently at first with the therapist increasing the resistance load and intensity over time.
Play eccentric adduction groin exercise video
Hip adduction against gravity - There are three different ways of performing hip adduction exercises using gravity for resistance. In the first one a chair is used and the lower leg raised towards the top one. Hold briefly then lower and repeat. Begin with 1 set of 10 reps building to 3 sets of 15 reps daily.
A slightly harder variation involves lying on your side with the top leg bent over to the front of the lower leg. The lower leg is raised as high as is comfortable, hold briefly then lower. This works the adductor muscles in the inner range of motion.
Finally, the most difficult version brings the core muscles into play as both legs are straight lying sideways again. Raise the top leg up then by contracting the adductor muscle and keeping the core muscle firm the lower leg is raised up to meet the top leg. Hold briefly then lower and repeat. Ankle weights can be used to increase the difficulty of any of these exercises.
Play hip adduction exercise against gravity video.
Resistance band adduction works the adductor muscles through both the inner and outer range of motion. Tie one end of a section of resistance band around your ankle. Tie the other end around something sturdy, close to ground level. Stand away from the attachment point, standing on the uninvolved leg and hold on to something for balance if necessary.
Take the involved leg out to the side as far as possible and make sure the band is taught in this position. Keep the knee straight as you bring your leg in to the center and across the supporting leg, against the resistance of the band. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 10 times initially. Gradually increase the number of reps you perform.
Play hip adduction exercise with resistance band video.
Hip abduction exercise will strengthen the muscles on the outside of the hip rather than the groin or adductor muscles. It is important to do all round hip strengthening exercises. Take the leg out to the side as far as possible. Slowly bring it back to the center. Make sure you have something to hold on to.
Use a resistance band or ankle weights for increased difficulty. Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps. This exercise can also be done lying on your side and using gravity for resistance. Do both sides to make sure there is no imbalance.
Play hip adbuction exercise video.
Hip extenson works the buttocks and hamstrings, the band is wrapped around the ankle and anchored to a table leg. The athlete faces the anchor point and starting with the band just taught, pulls the leg backwards against the band’s resistance. Slowly return to the starting position, maintaining control throughout.
Play hip extension exercise video.
Download our step by step groin rehab chart here.