Straining your groin, or the adductor muscles, can leave you feeling stiff, sore, and unable to keep up with the activities you love. Expedite your recovery by incorporating safe groin strain exercises into your home treatment program. Exercise is an essential component for healing and preventing groin injuries. Keep scrolling to get the best exercises to heal your groin strain.
Immediately following your groin muscle strain injury, you’ll want to get adequate rest for severe symptoms. A physical therapist can give you a proper examination and allotted rest time. Otherwise, begin with gentle exercises that target the adductors and connective hip muscles aimed to reduce groin pain, improve circulation, and build strength.
This simple move directly targets the injured hip adductors. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Grab a pillow, small ball (around the size of a soccer ball or slightly less), or even a foam roller and place it between your legs just above your knees. Squeeze the ball and hold for 5 seconds. How hard you squeeze depends on your symptoms, do not aggravate your pain.
Repeat for 15-20 repetitions for 2-3 sets. Progress to holding longer or more repetitions as tolerated.
Although thigh massage isn’t technically an exercise, it is an essential part of the recovery process and will boost your results. Grab a muscle roller stick and sit in a comfortable chair. Place the roller on the inner leg perpendicular to the thigh. Apply the pressure that you can tolerate and roll up and down the entire inner thigh- avoiding pressure on the knee. If you find a particular sore spot (or two), you can stop and focus on that particular spot with smaller focused movements.
Massage your leg for one to five minutes. With time, you may notice you can increase your pressure. If you want additional pressure transition to foam rolling.
Lie on your side with your upper leg bent and rotated so that you can rest your foot flat on the ground in front of your body for balance. Your bottom leg will be straight and in line with the rest of your body. Then, tighten the inner thigh muscles of your bottom leg and lift your leg off the ground straight up toward the ceiling. Keep the motion slow and controlled in each direction. To prevent wobbling, keep your abs tight as well.
Repeat for up to 15 repetitions for 2-3 sets on each leg. Initially, you may not be able to tolerate lifting. If so, just focus on tightening the thigh muscles. With time, increase your lifting range as tolerated.
As your groin heals and your symptoms subsite, your goal will be to maintain hip strength and balance of all surrounding muscles. Proper coordination of the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings), hip flexors (psoas and quad), abductors, and adductors will reduce risk of future injury to the groin muscles.
Grab a loop resistance band or standard resistance band you can tie. Place the band around your lower legs just above your ankles. Shift weight to one leg (stand near a chair or wall for assistance) then alternate moving your hip and leg out in front, to the side, and behind you while keeping the knee straight.
Repeat 10 times in each direction for 2-3 sets on each leg. Keep your core tight and avoid leaning with your upper body in the opposite direction of your leg.
Lie on your back with your loop resistance band, tighten your abs and bring your hips and knees to a 90 degree position with the band looped around your feet. Alternate pushing one leg forward at a diagonal toward the ceiling (not straight up). As you straighten your leg, you will also push your foot into the band resistance. You should feel the front of the hip and abs working most.
Alternate for up to 10 repetitions on each leg. Repeat for 2-3 sets. Make sure you are breathing and your abs are tight so that your low back doesn’t arch off the ground.
This is a great exercise and groin stretch that incorporates the hips and core. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor at about hip width. Tighten your abs as you let one hip rotate outward to bring the knee down toward the floor. You will feel your body trying to rotate to the side the knee is moving. If you can’t control this movement with your core, then you need to decrease the motion.
Repeat for 10-15 repetitions on one leg before switching to the other. Increase the range of motion with your hip as you can control it. You can also try this movement with both your feet off the ground and hips/knees at a 90 degrees.
A side plank is another great full body hip and core strengthener. Lie on your side with your forearm on the ground (perpendicular to your body) and elbow directly under the shoulder. Then, stack your feet as you lift your hips off the ground to create a straight line with the entire body. There should be no sagging in the hips or rotation in the spine. Hold your hips as high as possible with your arm straight up toward the ceiling, breathe, and hold.
Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for 2-3 sets on each side. If this is too difficult, modify to holding on your bent stacked knees. To progress, try lifting the top leg up into the air.
Standing on one leg is a great way to activate the core, hip, and groin muscles at once. Find a safe place to balance near a chair or the wall just in case. Then, shift your weight into the leg you want balance on, lift the opposite foot off the ground and hold. If it’s too easy on the ground, you can stand on a softer surface such as the carpet or a balance foam pad.
Balance for 30-60 seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg. You can add head, arm, or leg movements to your balance exercise to make it harder and more dynamic as tolerated.
To get the most out of your exercise and recovery program, keep these tips in mind:
Warm up your groin area with adductor stretches prior to exercise.
Alleviate pain and swelling before and after exercise with home treatment options like ice, heat, TENs, and massage.
Always start slowly with your program and progress when you feel comfortable without excessive pain or instability.
Visit your physical therapist for personalized recommendations and get a proper diagnosis. A hernia is often mistaken for a groin muscle injury.
Certain movements can aggravate groin injuries and muscles inside of the thigh; while there are no specific exercises that must absolutely be avoided, keep these general recommendations in mind and try to avoid higher intensity exercises until adductors have healed to avoid future groin injuries:
Finding the right exercises for groin strain recovery is pretty straightforward as long as you stay in tune with your symptoms. Starting with low level targeted exercise at first and progressing to more dynamic hip and core strengthening will yield the best results. With time, your symptoms will fade and your confidence in your leg strength and coordination will return.
If you experience a sudden increase in symptoms or they are not subsiding, get in touch with your sports medicine doctor or physical therapist for further treatment recommendations and medical advice.
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