Groin and Adductor Muscles

Groin and Adductor Muscles

Groin injuries account for 2 - 5 % of all sports injuries & will be influenced by various factors.The complex anatomy of the groin area increases the chance of injury, affecting not only the adductor muscles, tendons & ligaments, which lie between the inner thigh & pelvis, but also bones & the reproductive & digestive organs. With injuries caused by overuse the symptoms tend to build gradually with minimal pain so can be easily ignored. Diagnosis by a specialist in sports medicine is essential as the symptoms across different groin injuries will be similar.


 - certain sports which involve start-stop movements while running eg. Ice hockey, football (but also common in hurdling,high-jumping,gymnastics,basketball,ballet,rugby &ice skating)

 - teenage girls have increased risk of stress fractures in the groin

 - teenage athletes generally have increased risk for avulsion fractures as pelvic growth plates haven’t yet solidified

 - military recruits & athletes increasing the intensity of their training are prone to stress fractures

 - sudden changes in playing surface can increase the risk of stress fractures 

- men have a higher risk of hernias 


 - Sudden stops & starts of the lower body

 - repetitive stress eg in triathlon

 - sudden trauma eg rugby tackle 

- short, intense training sessions 

- inadequate rest period after acute groin injury, which leads to chronic injury 


- ADDUCTOR STRAIN- the most common type of groin injury affecting the inner thigh muscles,which are stretched past normal range of motion, usually when stopping or changing direction suddenly.

 - AVULSION FRACTURE - tendons are torn at the connection site, causing pain & muscle weakness. 

- STRESS FRACTURES – small cracks in the bone with form gradually, often in repetitive stress such as long distance running 

- OSTEITIS PUBIS – similar symptoms to adductor strain, chronic inflammation in the pubic symphysis joint & surrounding soft tissue, caused by repetitive stress

 - INGUINAL HERNIA – a tear in the lower abdominal muscles which causes a bulge in the groin area due to abdominal organs pushing through the weakened muscles.( often associated with weightlifting)

 - ATHLETIC PUBALGIA /SPORTS HERNIA - tears in the muscles, ligaments, & tendons where the lower abdomen connects with the adductors. This will be discussed in part 4 of this groin series. 

- HIP LABRAL TEARS - tear in the cartilage (often linked with femoroacetabular impingement) 

- SNAPPING HIP SYNDROME – (covered in previous post) 

- PHYSEAL INJURY – fracture of growth plates due to overuse


 - Sudden or gradual pain in the upper inside thigh which may get worse on bringing legs together

 - lower abdominal pain which gets worse with coughing/sneezing may indicate a hernia

 - a snapping sensation in the adductor muscle at the time injury 

- pain that improves with rest but gets worse with twisting movements may indicate sports hernia

 - pain with muscle compression

 - swelling & bruising

 - stiffness

 - joint disruption

 - fever, nausea, or vomiting (secondary symptoms – these should be given immediate medical treatment)) 

- pain in the genitals (may indicate hernia) 


Treatment will depend on the type of injury but may include the following:-

 - REST - injury may heal on its own if allowed time away from sport 

- ICE - ice to the injured area for 20 - 30 minutes every 3 - 4 hours over a 2 - 3 day period should help improve pain & swelling 

- COMPRESSION - thigh and/or groin area can be wrapped with compression garments to help reduce swelling & stabilize the injury. 

- ELEVATION - Elevating the groin area for a few hours each day may reduce swelling 

- NON STEROIDAL ANTI INFLAMMATORIES (NSAIDs) eg.ibuprofen for pain relief & to reduce inflammation 

- PHYSICAL/MASSAGE THERAPY – may respond to physical therapy, including massage & isometric stretching/strengthening

 - SURGERY – for severe injuries


 Groin pain is often caused by tight or weak adductor muscles which lead to strains. These stretches (pictured) are one way to prevent tightness in these muscles, & can be used before & after a workout.

 - standing groin stretch

 - seated groin stretch

 - squatting groin stretch

 - supine groin stretch

 - hip opener stretch

- adductor stretch