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Whether it was in the middle of the tennis match or after a set of side lunges gone awry, at one time or another you most likely felt the deep, searing pain of a groin strain. Sometimes called a groin pull, the injury usually consists of a small tear where the tendons high up on the inner thigh connect to the adductor muscle.
Yet, regardless of how bad it is, the annoying injury is almost always painful, as the sensitive groin area is laden with nerves (no surprise there).
Your pain could actually be something else. “Other conditions can mimic a groin strain,” warns Carol L. Otis, MD, author of The Athletic Woman’s Survival Guide and director of sportsdoctor.com in Portland, Oregon. “If the pain lasts more than a week or two, or you can use your leg at all, you may have a hernia, injury to the pelvic bones or hip joint, or a strained hip flexor.” Your groin strain can predispose you to another, so proper warm-ups once you’re healed are crucial. “Muscles and muscle-tendon junctions heal with scar tissue rather than supple, elastic muscle tissue,” Otis says. “The area becomes slightly tighter and more prone to tear again.”
What activities cause a groin strain?
Sports like soccer and tennis — activities that involve twisting and turning movements, or kicking.
How can women prevent it?
Do dynamic stretching (moving the body through its range of motion without added weight) of the groin, hip and buttock muscles before starting an activity. The warm-up should gradually mimic what you will do in the sport, priming muscles so they’ll be less likely to tear.
What’s the best way to heal it?
Stop any activity that hurts, and crosstrain with something that doesn’t cause pain. Ice the tender area early on for 15 minutes, two to six times a day for three days, and during the first week, limit inflammation with an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
Prevent groin injuries in one move by strengthening your adductor (inner thigh) muscles.
Do: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Target muscles: adductor magnus, quadriceps
Set up: Holding a dumbbell with both hands, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward.
Action: Bend both knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes. Hold for a second, return to the starting position and repeat.