We often find that groin injuries turn into long term issues for sports players when they are not managed appropriately. Athletes often try and manage their pain over the course of a season rather than getting on top of their issues and resolving them entirely. They don't want to stop playing over a niggle... we get it, but this is usually more detrimental than beneficial in the long run!
It’s intriguing listening to the variety of reasons people have for taking this approach. Some of my favourites have to be:
- ‘I’ve always had it so I can’t see it changing now’ (I can!!)
- ‘How much worse can it get?!’ (Enough to have you out of the game you love for 3+ months actually!)
- ‘I’ll just manage it during the season and sort it out in the offseason’ (Good in theory but generally executed poorly)
Realistically I think that these attitudes come from the fact that unlike a lot of other injuries, your little niggly groin injury that takes away some of your top speed, jumping height and cutting power often feels like it can just be dealt with.
Now while this is true in the short term, you often can manage a groin injury across the season, it doesn’t often come from a place of understanding.
Can you probably play out the rest of a game if you get a niggle with 30mins to go? Yes, probably.
However does that mean you should do that week on week, month on month, season on season? No...
Here’s the big thing you need to understand --- If you choose to be this person and then choose to rest over the off season and don’t implement a structured strength and conditioning regime you’ll start the next season where you finished the last (or potentially even further behind from deconditioning). Now if this is the case and you gradually get worse across each season and you do this for multiple seasons in a row, there's going to come a point where it’s no longer manageable and it’s a fairly long road back from there.
So what should we do?
Depending on what your goals are and what stage of this cycle you’re at, the answer will be slightly different. In general however, starting a strengthening program during the season is going to give you some benefit even if it doesn’t solve the problem entirely because your goal is to continue playing right now. This program should consist of pain free groin squeezes (place a ball between your feet or knees and perform 5 second squeezes/holds) and squatting and lunging to build up the hip and groin muscles that support the pelvis.
It is really important that once you’ve finished the season the strength deficits and impairments that remain and are no doubt the underlying issue, need to be addressed fully. A gradual and structured return to sport needs to be incorporated and even once this issue seems to have resolved, continuing to build and strengthen the area to prevent it from returning is a priority!