JAG Physical Therapy
Injuries to the adductor muscles are common in soccer athletes, due to the function of this muscle group as well as the mechanism of injury. The four adductor muscles, which constitute the ‘groin,’ function to bring the leg across the body, as is done during passing, shooting and moving laterally on the field. Due to the repetitive use of these muscles in soccer, adductor muscle strains have become commonplace. Due to the nature of the sport, a tedious healing process tends to result.
A muscle strain occurs when the muscle is stretched beyond its normal limits. This can happen as a result of an improper warm-up session, the overworking of a particular muscle group, doing ‘too much too soon,’ or an acute trauma. Acute muscle strains that occur to the groin area are more likely to occur at the beginning or the end of a game. A rapid kick in the beginning of the game may strain an improperly warmed up player; a kick at the end of the game could do the same, when musculature is fatigued and the body is dehydrated.
Chronic/overuse of muscle can lead to strain in the groin as a result of the same repetitive motions-- running, passing, cutting, running, passing, cutting--over and over again, without proper management and rest. When an athlete is suffering from a strain, painful motions may include side-to-side motions, the sudden stopping and changing of direction; bringing the leg all the way back and out to the side (winding up to kick); and contact with the ball while swinging through the kick.
Recovering from a muscle strain can be tedious, lasting anywhere from one week to a couple of months. This depends on the severity of injury, and the athlete’s adherence to the treatment plan. Most times, soccer athletes try to come back from a groin injury way too quickly; they do not always understand the importance of rest and gradual return to play. Treatment of a groin should begin with the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and should not involve heat until pain and swelling has subsided. Athletes will sometimes try to stretch or roll out a strained muscle because the muscle feels tight. Although this may be a great treatment option down the road, they can cause further injury if performed too soon. Stretching should not be integrated into the treatment plan until the athlete can move through daily activities with no pain.
With respect to a return to functional activities--such as running, sprinting, and kicking the ball--return should be gradual. If pain is felt at any step of the program, the athlete should stop the activity and try again the next day. Finally, strengthening of not only adductor musculature, but also the entire lower extremity, will aid in preventing further injuries down the road.
Exercises to incorporate:
- Forward Lunge
- Side Lunge
- Body Squat
- Calf Raises
- Skater walks/bounds
- Clam Shells
- Glute Bridges (Single or double leg)