Six muscles connect the pelvis to the inner part of the thigh bone. These muscles are responsible for pulling the legs together as well as small movements of the hip joints. The muscles are vulnerable to injury as they are smaller than other leg muscles and prone to getting out of shape. One of the most common injuries to occur in this area is a pulled groin.

Causes of a Pulled Groin

Many athletes sustain pulled groin injuries due to over-use of the muscles. This can happen during regular activity but is more common when athletes haven't adequately warmed up or conditioned themselves. If these muscles tense up too forcefully, they can become strained or stretched too far. In mild cases, the muscles are slightly over-stretched. In more severe cases, muscle fibers tear.

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Symptoms of a Pulled Groin

People with mild pulled groin injuries often experience discomfort, but with a short rest, they can usually resume regular activity. In more severe cases where the muscles tear, the injured person may experience swelling and bruising. Muscle tears can also lead to painful spasms. A typical sign of a pulled groin is the inability to bring the leg in towards the center of the body or walk without pain and weakness.

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How Do Doctors Diagnose a Pulled Groin?

A pulled groin has a reasonably clear diagnosis. Symptoms such as pain in the groin area and difficulty walking or moving the leg inwards are usually diagnostic. However, some other conditions mimic this injury, such as hernias, pinched nerves in the back, and hip joint swelling. A person experiencing groin pain for more than a short period should speak to a doctor to find out whether the cause requires medical treatment.

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Overall Treatment Goals

The goal of treatment is to rest the groin as much as possible, to allow the muscle fibers to heal. Keeping the leg still and straight will help bring down inflammation. Alternating ice and heat will help repair torn muscle fibers. Medications can also decrease inflammation, and in some cases, a tensor bandage may help reduce swelling, as well. Elevating the leg while laying down also helps. To avoid re-injury, people with pulled groin issues must give the muscle fibers time to heal. Once they repair themselves, certain exercises can promote strength in the groin.

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Seated Groin Stretches

While seated on the floor, bend your legs up towards your chest with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Let your knees fall to the sides, creating a diamond shape. This may be enough to feel a stretch, or you may choose to gently push against the thigh, just above the knee. Then, extend your legs out to the side, keeping them straight or just slightly bent. Your legs should create a V shape. Walk your hands forward until you feel a stretch in your groin. Take care not to over-stretch.

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Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexor stretch is more challenging but will help build strength as well. Start in a lunge position, bending one leg forward and straightening the other behind. Next, gently lower the knee of your straightened leg to the floor. Keep your body straight and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the groin. Go slow, so you don't lose your balance. Repeat on the opposite side.

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Bent Knee Strengthening Exercise

Lay down on the floor and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Place a medicine ball or large pillow between your knees. Squeeze your knees together using the medicine ball or pillow for resistance. Press for five seconds, then relax, and repeat ten times. As your strength improves, you can increase the duration and repetitions.

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Gravity Strengthening Exercise

Lie on your side. Place the top foot on a chair and the bottom foot under the chair. Lift the bottom foot to touch the underside of the chair seat and pause briefly before lowering the foot. If you feel any pain, then lift the foot halfway. Repeat this ten times and switch sides.

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Strengthening Using Resistance Bands

These exercises utilize a resistance band and should wait until the groin muscles have gotten a little stronger. Standing, secure the resistance band to one foot and the other end to a secure object such as a stair railing. Pull the attached leg toward the other, using the band to create resistance. By drawing your foot toward the inside or outside of the standing let, you can isolate specific muscles. Do ten repetitions for both legs.

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How To Prevent a Pulled Groin

The best prevention for a pulled groin is to make sure you're in good condition before engaging in challenging sports or workout routines. Studies show the most significant risk for a pulled groin is lack of conditioning. Also, adopting a habit of stretching and strengthening will keep the groin muscles strong and flexible. A healthy diet, proper hydration, and regular massages will also help prevent this injury.

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