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You keep aggravating your groin strain with too intense of activities, you’re resting it too much, or a combination of the two.
In this article, we will briefly discuss why your groin strain is taking much longer to heal than it should.
If you want to make faster progress with your groin strain, check out our preferred rehab protocol for groin strains.
You keep aggravating it. This is likely very frustrating as you are doing rehab exercises or taking it easy, but it still flares up symptoms.
Here’s the thing… the diagnosis of a “groin strain” or “adductor strain” is usually incredibly sensitive and can be aggravated by even low-effort activities. This is why it’s important to go through a step-by-step process, usually with a rehab professional to make sure that you aren’t pushing too hard, too soon. You can read more by checking out this article where I lay out a multi-month plan of different exercise progressions and things to look out for.
The best way around this as I discussed in the other article is to take it slower than you think you need to and keep pain levels with activity to a maximum of 4/10, twenty-four hours after activity or exercise.
The main thing is to reduce the prevalence of flare-ups while rehabbing.
Here are a couple pieces of equipment to aide you in your recovery:
- Adjustable dumbbells (amazon link). I like these because they are a small footprint and are easy to adjust (you can get them with or without the stand). You don’t need a mountain of DBs to get the work done. Additionally, you can use these with reverse lunges, pistol squats, romanian deadlifts and other movements in your recovery.
- Short loop bands and long loop bands for standing adductor movements and other types of movement.
And to jump off of that point, read this article about the fastest way to heal a pulled groin!
You’re only resting or stretching. While rest can be beneficial for a few days to allow for the initial inflammatory response to do its thing, it is counterproductive over a longer period of time.
Here’s why; if you rest for several weeks or months, you start to lose muscle mass, as well as the conditioning that you had built up in your muscles and other tissues. Then, when you do decide to get back to activity, your tissue capacity has decreased, and its tolerance for load has also decreased.
This is the error most people make. They rest for several weeks or months and then try to get back to the same level of activity as they were at prior, not realizing that they are now deconditioned for that particular activity.
If you’re nodding along right now, you get it.
Stretching is also not necessarily beneficial either as this is a strained muscle, which, generally does not respond well to stretching. Some people do get short-term relief from stretching, which if that’s you, that’s fine.
But, if stretching causes more discomfort, greater than a 4/10, I would suggest removing this stretching from your program altogether until your symptoms are better under control.
If you’re not entirely sure if it is a groin strain that you’re experiencing, here’s a fairly detailed post about what the signs and symptoms of a groin strain, are.
They are choosing the wrong exercises to perform.
For adductor strains (groin strains), a combination of rectus abdominis (your six-pack ab muscles), and adductor strengthening exercises should be the staples in your rehab plan.
Too often, I see people only performing bridges, clamshells, and isometric adductor knee squeezes. Some people will benefit from this, but many others need what i’ll share below.
For athletic pubalgia (adductor strain with abdominal strain), the best protocol that I’ve found and implemented has been this one. It’s a combination of abdominal exercises, adductor strengthening exercises, and lower body strength exercises.
I also detail this in this article that I wrote.
If you are curious as to how long a groin strain takes to heal, check out this article.
Seated hip adduction machine
This exercise is excellent because you can progressively increase the load and track it over time. It’s easier to carefully progress this one over time, versus other movements such as the Copenhagen plank.
If you don’t have access to a seated hip adduction machine another great exercise is to use a resistance band looped around something stationary and perform standing hip adduction. You can also do this side-lying with a shorter resistance band, too.
This movement is usually not tolerated in the beginning stages of rehab as it is quite intense.
Usually, my clients can tolerate this exercise. Once it feels pain-free or close to pain-free I will allow my clients to progress to using weights. After they can tolerate 20+ lbs we will start to add in a larger range of motion by performing this movement on blocks.
Feel free to share this infographic and include the link to this article!
Should You Use Ice or Heat on a Groin Strain?
You can use either one. Whichever feels best, heat or ice, is the best option for this.
Ice and heat do not help to heal the strain. Instead, they help to reduce the severity of symptoms to make them more tolerable. Ultimately, time, plus the selection of the correct exercises are what is going to help you make significant improvements over time.
A typical guideline for icing or heating any pain or injury is to apply for 20 mins, and then take it off for 20 mins. Be careful with heat that you place a barrier between your thigh and the heat source as people do burn themselves, particularly if they fall asleep when using the heating pad or other device.
Don’t over-exercise, don’t under-exercise, and choose the right movements and you’ll likely start making progress. If you need help with this I’d recommend working with a physical therapist who is experienced in working with this condition.