Groin strains have a tendency to recur if not treated properly. Here we outline the treatment and healing element of our groin strain rehab program
- Phase 1 groin strain rehabilitation (acute stage)
- Phase 2 groin strain rehabilitation (subacute stage)
- Phase 3 groin strain rehabilitation (returning to full fitness)
The aims of any groin strain rehabilitation program are to reducing initial pain and swelling, improve the flexibility, strengthen the muscles and gradually return to full fitness. The Sportsinjuryclinic.net rehabilitation plan is divided into four 'strands' of treatment, stretching, strengthening and maintaining fitness.
Here we detail the treatment and healing element is broken into three phases and should be used in conjunction with our the stretching and strengthening exercises as part of our groin strain rehabilitation program.
Groin strains are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on how bad they are. Where you start on the rehabilitation program and how fast you progress through each stage will depend on the type and extent of the injury.
Phase 1 - Acute stage
This phase includes from immediately after the injury occurs until the athlete can walk pain-free and has no swelling. The aim of treatment during the acute stage is to reduce pain and swelling whilst resting to allow the injury to heal.
Immediate first aid - apply the PRICE principles (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) as soon as possible after injury, this is especially important during the first 72 hours after an injury.
- Protect the injured muscles by wearing a groin support, compression shorts or groin taping. This will make the injured area feel more comfortable, especially in more severe injuries.
- Rest from all sporting activities in the early stages of healing. If you are constantly triggering pain then you are not allowing the tissues to rest and heal. For more severe injuries use crutches if you have to walk.
- Apply cold therapy and compression to the area as soon as possible after injury for up to 15 minutes. Continue this at least 3 to 4 times per day.
- Elevate the injured limb to help swelling drain away from the site of injury.
Move onto phase 2 only when walking is pain-free and swelling has gone down.
Phase 2 - Subacute stage
Once the initial bleeding from the muscle has stopped and swelling has gone down then alternating hot and cold therapy is likely to be of more benefit.
- Alternate 2 minutes warm, 1 minute cold for 18 minutes. Use a hot water bottle or gel pack which can be heated along with the cold therapy and compression wrap. This can be done 2 to 3 times per day.
- Apply compression shorts is less important at this stage, although a groin support or heat retainer will help support the muscle as it heals. Retaining body heat encourages blood flow which aids the healing process.
- A professional therapist may apply ultrasound therapy to aid the healing process, stimulate blood flow and provide a micro-massage effect.
Progress to stage 3 when pain free on daily activities and after a minimum of 10 days.
Phase 3 - Return to full fitness
This phase (play video) aims to take the athlete gradually back to full fitness and should be maintained until all stretching and strengthening exercises have been completed. The focus here is on heat to stimulate blood flow and relax the muscle
- Apply heat - a warm pack or hot water bottle can be applied for 20 minutes maximum at a time twice a day. Regularly monitor the skin reaction to avoid burns. This can be done as frequently as needed and in particular before stretching and strengthening exercises.
- A professional therapist may apply sports massage to the groin muscles. This will stimulate blood flow, soften scar tissue and iron out and tight lumps, bumps, and knots in the injured tissue. Initially, treatments will be light and superficial and may be applied daily. As the injury improves, deeper techniques may be used which may require a longer recovery time between treatments. Monitor soreness the day after a massage treatment. A little bit of muscle soreness is ok but too much may cause damage rather than aid the healing process.
Continue with phase 3 until fully fit and all stretching and strengthening exercise levels have been completed.