If you’ve played hockey, you’ve probably had a groin injury. Want to know what I think about them? Read on to find out more…
So I did a bit of a literature review to see what the scientific community has to say about groin injuries and hockey players. Here is what the literature tells us:
-If you have stronger adductors (groins), you are less likely to get a groin injury
-If you skate more during the off-season, you are less likely to get a groin injury
-If you have better adductor flexibility, you are less likely to get a groin injury
-If you’ve already had a groin injury, you are more likely to get another
WOW!!! How revelatory!!!
Sooo, basically the literature tells us some stuff we already know, or at least could have guessed. But at least the literature confirms what we thought we knew about groin injuries, and that is step one for science. But it really doesn’t give us any useful insight.
So now it’s time to speculate and to report my observations from self-treating groin injuries for years.
Here are the things that I think you need to do to prevent and treat groin injuries:
- Check the alignment of your pelvis/jammed SI joints
- Treat trigger points around the pelvis and into the adductors
- Strengthen the adductors
- (Treat) Ice
Check the Alignment of your pelvis/jammed SI joints
Here is the number one way to test, and then treat your minor groin pain.
Watch the below video to see how to assess a jammed SI joint:
He threw around some scientificky words there, but here’s what you need to know:
- Put your thumbs on the dimples on your lower back
- Get the person you’re assessing to bend over
- If one thumb rises up further than the other, the side with the thumb higher is jammed
- You don’t need to worry about the extension test
Then to unjam the SI joint, all you need to do is apply some gentle traction to the leg that is jammed. So have the person lay face down on the floor or on a bed, stand near their feet, grab onto the bottom of leg that’s jammed, then pull them along the ground towards you. Then recheck their SI joint mobility with the above test. If fixed, guess what: your problem is most likely solved. Your groin, if tweaked, should heal up within 1-3 days.
You’re thinking, “No way it’s that simple.” You’re wrong. It usually is that simple if it’s minor groin pain. If you have a major groin issue, it is likely a legitimate tearing of the groin which would need surgical intervention…but in the case that it is a minor groin injury, this is usually the cause and the solution.
Why does this work?
The highlighted (light blue) muscles are three of the 6 adductor muscles. The three I’ve highlighted, because they are large and easy to see are Adductor Magnus, Adductor Longus, and Pectineus.
Normally, when the SI joints function normally and are not jammed, when the hips flex forward, the sacrum rotates forward, but the pelvis does not rotate completely with the sacrum. Instead, the movement of the SI joints allows the pelvis to remain in a more neutral position. Skaters are in a hips flexed position when they skate, and if the SI joint does not move properly, the pelvis will rotate forward with the sacrum. As you can see, if the pelvis rotates too far forward, it will increase the resting length of the adductor muscles mentioned. If the resting length of the muscles is increased, then there will be less leeway for the muscle to stretch when you stride out. This generally results in a tightening or spasming of the groin…and is what we experience as groin pain. When you treat the SI joints, and allow them to move properly, you restore the resting length of the adductor muscles and so long as you rest them for a couple days, the tightness/pain experienced in the groin area will go away. The healing will be accelerated with icing, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS…or advil/ibuprofen), elevation, etc..
Treat Trigger Points around the Pelvis and into the adductors
If you’ve read my blog on Releasing Trigger Points, you’ll know that I’m a fan of releasing trigger points to increase mobility, decrease fatigue, increase strength, and brain body communication. Releasing trigger points around the pelvis will allow your hips to move and function optimally. You can also trigger point into the adductors to release Trigger Points there. By ensuring eliminating Trigger Points around the pelvis and into the adductors, you will be able to use your hips optimally. If you’re unable to use your hips optimally, you need to sacrifice core stability in order to skate. In reducing core stability
Strengthen the Adductors
Very simply, spend time every couple of workouts strengthening your adductors. To do so, ensure that you have neutral pelvic alignment, and do isometric holds with either a cable or elastic. Try to increase the weight at which you can do an isometric hold while maintaining neutral posture. You can also do eccentric contractions (let your leg abduct under tension) as training eccentric loads will put the most mechanical stress on your adductors, thereby increasing their strength the most. While there is no evidence that eccentrics specifically are the best approach to preventing groin injuries, we know that increasing the mechanical stress on the body tissue during training will lead to adaptations (increase in tissue strength) that will prevent injuries from occurring.
(Some videos demonstrating some groin exercises will be posted here soon)
Treat a groin pull just like any other injury that you might have: Use the RICE Method. Which is:
- Rest – Do not do activities that will aggravate the injury
- Ice – Ice the affective area 10 minutes on, 15 minutes off 2-3 times per day
- Compression – There are compression technologies or ways of helping to reduce inflammation mechanically that you can use (compression bandage, compression clothing, kinesiotape)
- Elevation/Drugs – Elevation isn’t terribly important…but it will help. But NSAID’s (Advil/Ibuprofen) will be a big help reducing inflammation.
I’ve been able to self-treat all of my groin pulls and strains successfully using the above information. I’ve never had a major groin injury however, so that makes it easier for me to treat myself. Players who have had major groin injuries may not be able to troubleshoot their groin issues so easily with the above information…but for the player with a minor groin strain, this is a a pretty hands-on guide to treating and preventing minor groin strains and pulls.