What causes groin pain?
Groin pain can be due to many causes, from bones fractures to hernias, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to assume its pain due to soft tissue damage, otherwise known as groin strain.
The groin is the area of your hips between your stomach, where your abdomen ends, and thighs, where your legs begin. At the risk of stating the obvious, groin strain is any discomfort felt in this area.
Most people who have played contact sports such as football, rugby or hockey will have experienced groin strain as some time or other. It is usually caused either by direct contact or by overstretching the area, for example in a sliding tackle or sudden sprint.
There is a group of 5 main groin muscles called the adductors, and their job is to bring your leg back to the midline. They are assisted by the hip flexor muscles which lift the legs in walking and running, and the lateral hip muscles (on the outside of your hips) which rotate your legs as you walk/run.
Strain to any of these muscles can cause pain which can be felt in the groin itself and sometimes radiates up into the lower abdomen, hip and inner thigh. The pain is generally made worse with movement such as walking, running or going uphill/upstairs. However, lack of movement can also exacerbate symptoms particularly if the hip flexor muscles are injured as, for example, sitting for prolonged periods contracts the muscles more, making it painful when you stand up and therefore stretch them.
What can you do if you have groin pain?
General advice for groin strain is to rest and to apply regular ice packs in the first few days. For many people this is sufficient and they can then return to normal activity. However sometimes it can develop into a chronic condition and be prone to re-injury which can recur for years after the original incident.
Where a groin strain has become a chronic condition like this it is worth considering what might be going on from a myofascial perspective to help understand the issue. Fascia surrounds and connects all of the structures supporting the groin area – the muscles are encased in and defined by fascia, the ligaments that form the structure of the hips are also formed from fascia, and even the bones of the legs and pelvis have fascial connections that are continuous with the soft tissues connected to them.
Muscle strain is a localised injury to some of the muscle fibres and the fascia that surrounds and supports them. This creates a fascial restriction which is no longer as elastic as the tissues around it and can therefore start to develop into lines of tension that radiate out and affect other areas. Not only does this cause referred pain, but it also explains the restricted movement commonly felt with groin pain.
If you suffer from long-term groin pain caused by muscle strain, then it is worth considering a myofascial approach. Working with a trained myofascial therapist and/or self-help myofascial exercises can help to release the restrictions that are causing your symptoms and return your groin area to more normal pain-free balance. There are many simple self-help exercises that can release your groin, hips and thighs and, if used regularly, can help to prevent recurrence of pain in future.
Find out about some simple self-help myofascial exercises to try in our video: