Groin injuries are fairly common to sports participants, particularly soccer, hockey, and football players. Often referred to as a “groin pull” or “strain,” they usually represent an injury to one or more of the adductor muscles. These muscles help pull the legs together and help stabilize the hip joint. Clearly, as Ladanian Tomlinson can attest, in high-demand sports, they are at risk for injury.
Muscle strains or pulls occur when the muscle stretches more than it is accustomed to or able to be stretched, which results in microscopic tears of the muscle fibers. In severe cases, the muscle can tear completely. The microscopic tears are consistent with Grade I strains and often cause mild discomfort. These don’t usually limit activity. Grade II strains are more severe and can affect one’s ability to play sports. When the tears make things like walking difficult, the injuries are more consistent with Grade III strains.
On the bright side, most of these injuries, including grade IIIs, respond well to conservative treatment options. These include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, ice, compression, and elevation. After the initial inflammation dissipates, a program of stretching and gradual strengthening should be instituted. A gradual return to sports follows. The time period for this healing process can range from days to weeks depending on the severity of the strain.
A quick return for LT would be ideal for him and his San Diego Chargers teammates, but he has made some comments that would make one think that his injury is on the more severe side. He is quoted as saying “It’s definitely torn…whenever you feel a popping or like it’s tearing, that’s usually not good.” He is right! If the muscles tear away from the bone where they attach, surgery can be necessary to ensure healing. This would require a lengthy recovery process; but more immediately, such an injury would make it very difficult for him to play at all this coming week, let alone play effectively.
Groin pulls are common sports injuries that can often be prevented with a regimented stretching and strengthening program. Despite appropriate conditioning, however, injuries still occur. On the bright side, the majority of these groin injuries heal well with rest and physical therapy. Unfortunately, there are times when the “pulls” are more serious…LT can attest to this.