OUCH! A groin pull is one of the most painful & common soccer injuries for all ages. The reason is because we are always having to reach for a ball, run, kick, fall – which all make the groin stretch and pull. If I could remember every time I had an injury and counted them up, I bet this injury would be the most injured. There were times when it was minor and other times it was major. Rest and rehab are 2 key pieces to the recovery process.
Groin pull & hip flexor symptoms
We hear all our life to eat right and take care of your body.
At the end of the day, if we know how to prevent the injuries, we stay out of the medical room and on the field.
Especially muscle pulls, because these are usually our doing & not the opponent’s fault.
Getting kicked or twisting a knee is different than pulling a muscle.
So make sure you do what you can, which includes eating healthy and stretching because these are BIG Injury Prevention Methods.
Hip and groin pull rehab [strengthening]
To prevent these injuries you want to keep them strong.
If you are recovering from a groin pull injury, it’s also important to strengthen these muscle groups.
You don’t only want to strengthen the groin, but also the muscles around the injured muscle.
Once you have 1 injury your non-injured muscles have to work harder.
Groin pull injuries can lead to surgery
In the college & pro years a large percentage of players end up with the “sports hernia” which first feels like a pulled groin.
The end result for a sports hernia is you have to get surgery.
I would bet that 20% of pro players have had this surgery.
Surgery was my only option in college if I wanted to keep playing at that level and pursue a pro career.
I had to fly from Texas to Boston, MA to get the procedure done.
After this pain and rehab I knew my journey was to go on and try to play pro soccer.
You can’t go through that type of pain and not try to play as long as you can!
After the surgery I can say I didn’t injure my groin again because they made the area so strong and tight.
Also I took good care of myself after that in terms of eating right and keeping fit.
My surgeon was Dr. Myers (Love that guy forever); he fixed me but at the same time was truly a guy who cared about his patients.
The reassurance he gave me that everything would be okay was something I will always feel inside.
Only a few doctors could perform the surgery
This surgery, at the time, was still pretty new in the U.S. Dr. Myers was the only surgeon in America, at that time, who did the procedure.
There were a few other doctors in Germany that were doing it but Dr. Myers was seeing not only soccer players but hockey players as well.
I remember reading that I was around the 500th patient at the time.
This was nothing compared to how many were getting treated a few years later.
Dr. Meyers was treating hockey, soccer, & rodeo riders the most.
The doc even came to Dallas, TX to speak to hundreds of rodeo riders and ended up making several appointments in that week.
The way the rodeo guys got the injury was from squeezing on to the horse or bull and getting thrown around.
So it made me feel tougher when I heard we were getting the same injuries as Rodeo guys and Hockey Players! 🙂
A similar injury is the hip-flexor pull
The hip-flexor pull is similar to a groin pull.
A hip-flexor pull is just more in the front of the hip while the groin injury is more inside of the leg.
Everything between these injuries can be the spot of the pain.
However, let’s just say that if it’s the hip flexor then it’s easier to ice.
Reasons for the hip/groin injury
There is lots of stretching for the ball to trap the ball.
Then there is also shooting and passing, which are also motions that make the legs separate in a unnatural movement.
Having to not only do lots of running, but also turning, lunging, side to side & having to react last second causes much strain.
These movements stretch the groin muscle in ways that will cause it to pull.
Strong core helps prevent hip and groin pull
How to help prevent a groin pull.
Keep your abdominal muscles (your core) strong!
This is because this is the muscle closest to the groin.
Stretch at home because this gives you the extra stretch of the day in a relaxing way, which helps your muscles have more flexibility.
Use these 4 stretches:
- Hip-flexor stretch
- Quad stretch
- A ‘dog’ stretch (1 knee on the floor and 1 knee up on the couch, bench, chair). Great stretch!
Best Hip Flexor Stretch: Lean your torso back (up right) and keep your knee even with your toes.
The butterfly stretch: A vital stretch for your groin.
Use your elbows to press against the inside of your knees to get a deeper stretch.
If your injury is fresh or painful don’t stretch it too far.
This can be done sitting down too.
Remember the main thing that will heal your injury is strength training for the injury & surrounding muscles.
The standing groin stretch:
Standing up straight with feet shoulder width apart, slide your hand down to the outside of your knee.
You can keep both hands to your side & then raise one up above your head which gives a deeper stretch.
Standing Groin Pull II (with One Arm Raised)
The side groin stretch.
1 leg is straight while you lean on your other leg which is bent.
You will feel the stretch on both sides especially the bent leg side.
The hip flexor stretch (while lying on your back)
On your back you will keep 1 leg straight, while you bend other leg & hold/pull towards your chest/stomach.
This will stretch the leg that is straight.
When does the injury happen?
Pre-season is going to be the time groin injuries happen because the body is not game fit at this time.
Before Pre-season is the time the body is in its worst shape.
So then adding heavy conditioning, training & games is going to add to the effect.
Wet Conditions will cause players to slip, causing the muscle to stretch further than it’s used to.
This is usually the most painful groin pull. These are the times when you feel the injury right away.
Most of the times when players pull their groin it’s not like a certain time they can tell you it happened.
It’s usually something that gets sore and then having to keep playing on it makes it worse.
Stretching to control a ball or make a tackle will put your body in a position that is not natural or good for you.
You have got to put your body on the line if you want to compete.
As long as you are well trained and do your stretches & proper warm-ups you will be all good.
Long Games (Extra Time), Tournaments, 4 Game Weeks are all going to be times where your body is in over-use.
In college there are times where you play 2 games away on a long travel and then come back to play a home game.
Traveling… Example in the Pros when you have a good team who is not only in their league, but have tournaments like Champions League.
You have to travel to another country to play a game, go back home to play a league game and then have another home game with the tournament + domestic league games.
How to care for a groin pull
The best way to treat a pulled groin, besides rest and rehab, is an ICE Bath.
An ice pack really doesn’t do the job in that area.
Players need to immerse their bodies in the ice water.
If I were to only be able to use the Ice Tub for one injury I would use it for the Pulled Groin because it’s so hard to pinpoint the inflammation area.
This part of our body stays so warm that you really need to get all the way in the ice water or you’re not getting it iced all the way.
Don’t forget to get a good warm-up, so that your muscles can get a better stretch.
These habits will last you a lifetime.
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