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Strains to the body’s five abductor muscles in the inner thigh are some of the most common sporting injuries, particularly amongst footballers.
Wearing compression shorts can be a good way to prevent a groin or adductor strain, by regulating muscle temperature, along with reducing muscle movement and vibration should an injury occur.
A groin strain involves one of the abductor muscles; the abductor brevis, longus, magnus, gracilis, or pectineus. It is usually caused by the muscle being stretched forcibly beyond its normal limits. This causes the muscle to tear, which is described as groin strain. The injury is then classed as a first degree, second degree, or third degree strain depending on how much damage is done. A small number of muscle fibres damaged constitutes a first degree strain, followed by damage to more fibres, and then to the rupturing of the entire muscle.
You may not realise you have suffered a grade one strain until after you have finished whatever activity you are doing. Then you may think you have a cramp or experience a tightening and a small amount of pain during muscle stretches or contractions. In the case of a grade two groin strain, you will experience immediate and more severe pain, which will continue and may worsen when you walk. Stretching and contracting the muscle will hurt and it will often be sore to the touch.
It is quite rare to suffer a grade three strain in the abductors but if you do, there will be an immediate stabbing or burning pain and you will not be able to walk without it hurting. In both second and third grade injuries, there will be a bruise just below the site of the injury, which appears after a day or two and indicates bleeding in the tissue.
Use ice packs to reduce bleeding and relieve pain. These can be applied for 20 minute periods at two hourly intervals and can help to speed up recovery. Rest is also important to prevent the injury from worsening. Experts advise resting for at least three weeks if you suffer a grade one strain and between four and six weeks if you experience a grade two injury. A complete rupture of the muscle will call for a consultation with an orthopaedic doctor. In severe case, surgery will be needed to repair the torn muscle. If this is necessary, the rehabilitation time is likely to be around three months.
Compression shorts can help to maintain the temperature of your muscles, reducing the likelihood of groin strain occurring. This is especially important during cold weather. It is also essential to warm up properly before taking part in any activity and to cool down afterwards. Warming up and keeping your muscles warm makes them more stretchable. You can also try keeping your carbohydrate levels up during activity by using gels and energy bars to help fight fatigue and you can do core strengthening exercises, such as those using a Swiss ball.