The title of this blog should really read Groin PAIN rather than groin strain.
A groin strain is a simple bone-muscle -tendon lesion brought on by overload, for example training as a runner and then playing a game of touch football. Your muscles become good at what you practice and if you practice running at a consistent pace in a relatively straight line you are not adequately prepared for rapid changes in pace and direction. This is an example of a training error, and should be addressed upon recovery.
Groin PAIN however is a whole different kettle of fish! It often starts very similarly to a groin strain but it fails to recover appropriately. These groin pain syndromes are often referred to as ATHLETIC PUBALGIA or a SPORTS HERNIA.
Pain in the groin can be referred from the lumbosacral spine, sacroiliac joints, urological causes (see our previous post on Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes) and active myofascial trigger points in abdominal and hip muscles. In other words a careful examination is needed to isolate the source of the problem.
MRI can also be used to evaluate whether there is any intrinsic hip pathology (for example a labral tear) and to assess the extent of damage to the conjoint tendon, abdominal muscles and connective tissues around the region. (the white stuff on the image below!)
If extensive tears are noted surgery is often a good option, provided it is followed by a careful and considered rehabilitation period.
Flexibility and core strength are vital in preventing the adductor and abdominal muscles from developing excessive tension so will form the mainstay of rehabilitation.
Chronic groin strains, or sports hernias will often present as significant post event stiffness and pain. But it is best not to ignore it and push through.