Groin injuries are among the most common injuries seen in hockey. A groin pull is a painful and debilitating injury to the muscles of the inner thigh. Research has shown that hip flexibility, and more importantly, strengthening, can help decrease the occurrence of groin strains. Hip strengthening should be performed during the entire season to maintain a level of fitness necessary to avoid injury.
The groin consists of 6 muscles on the inside of the hip and thigh called the adductor muscles. During the powerful skating stride, the hip extensors and abductors on the back and side of the hip are the prime movers, while the hip flexors and adductors act to stabilize the hip and decelerate the leg. In hockey, adductor strains occur during the lengthening contraction of the adductors as they decelerate the leg during the skating stride. The strain occurs when the muscle is stretched past its ability to handle a muscle load. Typically only some of the muscle tears while the bulk of the muscle remains intact. Any imbalance between the prime movers and stabilizers of the hip can make the adductors more prone to injury.
Once a groin strain occurs, there are a few treatment options that can help speed recovery. Ice right after the strain occurs is recommended to decrease the effects of inflammation around the injury site. After a few days, a very effective method of treatment is a hands-on soft tissue technique
designed to take the injured area through its complete range of motion. This helps to minimize adhesions that will form after this type of injury. Once the injured area has begun to heal, a strengthening program is implemented in order to get the groin area strong enough to begin skating again (see the 3D stretch lunge video above).
Remember, the groin and hip are under a great deal of strain during the sport of hockey. Be proactive and take care of this area so you won’t have to miss playing time with a pain in the groin!
Dr. Chad Moreau is the President of HockeyOT.com
, an online training site dedicated to improving the fitness level of hockey players
of all levels. He was the former Strength & Conditioning/Nutrition Consultant for the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and the Long Beach Ice Dogs (ECHL). For more information please visit hockeyot.com