From the Trainer’s Room: How to diagnose and treat groin injuries in hockey players
The main groin muscles include the adductor longus, magnus and brevis and the gracilis. Their primary function is to bring the leg back towards the middle of the body or adduct the hip.
Groin injuries can be debilitating as the muscle group is elongated on the skating stride and contracted on the recovery phase, so it is constantly being stressed.
When a strain of a muscle occurs, the force placed on the muscle is too great and causes the fibers to tear. The severity can differ from one injury to another and usually affects either the muscle belly, near the middle of the inside of the thigh, or the origin up near the pubic bone where the muscle turns into a tendon and attaches to the bone.
When a groin injury occurs, it is important not to play through it and to seek medical advice from a qualified physician, athletic trainer or physical therapist who works with athletes with these types of injuries.
Normal treatment will include rest, flexibility exercises of the adductors, glutes and hip flexors, which should all be pain-free, and strengthening of the adductors and hip flexors as they aid in the recovery phase of skating. A slow, gradual return to skating is also key to recovery before returning to games. Once the pain has subsided, it is important to maintain flexibility and strength in your hips to help prevent future injuries.
Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 20 years’ experience in professional sports. He has worked in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Washington Capitals and was also the head athletic trainer for the 2002 USA Hockey Men’s National Team. He is the founder of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Southern California.
(Dec. 6, 2018)