Causes and treatments for groin strain

Groin strain

In this next series of blogs we look at the injuries that can cause groin pain. First up, we look at what a groin strain is or as it is more correctly called, an adductor strain.

There are three adductor muscles and the image above shows where on the body they are located. Their names are adductor brevis, adductor longus and adductor magnus.

As the names suggest, their function is ‘adducting’ the leg – so if your foot is out to the side it pulls it back towards you again like this.

How do you injure them?

Generally adductor strains happen as a result of sharp movements, such as quick changes in direction when running or rapid lateral movement of the leg.

Tears are graded as I, II or III which can be summarised as follows:Muscle and ligament tears table

Generally there will be pain when pressing at the site of the injury and it can also be sore when squeezing your legs together. However, groin pain can also be be referred from elsewhere, such as the hip joint and/or lower back, so these will need to be ruled out as part of an assessment.


Massage can be useful in the early stages and it is important to commence some gentle movement as soon as possible. As the muscle recovers, these gentle movements can be progressed to strengthening exercises. Initially this may start with this resisted adduction…

…before progressing onto these more advanced weight-shifting squats…


If you’re returning to a sport that requires quick changes of direction, such as football, netball or rugby then these will be progressed further, when appropriate, to faster lateral movements such as sideways jumping and sidestepping. The time it takes before you’re back playing will depend on the grade of the tear, the exact location of it and also the sport you play.

Stretching is often something people go to after a muscle tear but they shouldn’t. Imagine fixing a pair of trousers with a single layer of stitching – if you stretch it it’s likely to tear again and that’s why strengthening is a much better approach and one that helps stimulate healing. As an added benefit, by strengthening through a good range of movement you will also improve mobility and flexibility as well ensuring you are strong through this whole range. “Strengthen to lengthen” is a term that has been used to describe how strengthening through range can actually be better for flexibility than stretching alone.

So if you have a groin strain, start moving it gently as soon as possible and if you have any questions we’re always here to help.