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Weekend Recovery: Groin and Hip Flexor Strains
Strain your groin or hip flexor over the weekend? Don't worry, there's an easy way to self-diagnose, and an easy way to recover. Remember though, patience above all else is required!
By SoccerViza Staff

Groin and hip flexor strains are some of the most common injuries among soccer players. They occur sometimes when you least expect it, and even though it should be a quick fix, if you're not patient they can take months. 

You can usually tell the severity of the strain by going through a light physical test, but it's very important to be honest with yourself during it. Don't try to downplay pain that you might feel during it, convincing yourself that you can play on. Each episode of aggravating the already injured muscle fibers continues to weaken them, making your total recovery time longer, and the likelihood of repeat injuries greater.

When you strain your groin or hip flexor, the pain is going to emanate from the roughly the same area; usually somewhere in the front of your pelvis down through your inner thigh. The injury occurs when too much stress has been placed on the muscle during kicking, jumping, sprinting, or changes of direction. 

No matter how light you may think the injury is at first, it requires immediate rest. Spend a couple days off your feet as much as possible, keeping the injured leg elevated and going through routine ice applications. Taking anti-inflammatories can help facilitate speedier recovery, while also alleviating what pain you may feel. Be careful though, and take this into consideration when getting back on your feet. If you have recently taken an anti-inflammatory, there may be a false sense of confidence in the muscle. 

After you have rested, you want to confirm to yourself if it's the groin or the hip flexor, and there are a couple of tests you can do to determine which it is. 

1. If it's a groin injury, you will feel the most pain while trying to squeeze your legs together. It will be focused more towards your inner thigh than the front of your thigh.

2. With a hip flexor the pain will usually come from the front of your thigh where it meets your pelvis. This can be tested by doing a hip stretch; kneel with the knee of your injured leg on the ground, and place your opposite leg out in front of you with your foot flat on the ground. Put your hands on your hips and gently push forward, applying a light stretch to the injured side. If you feel pain where your thigh meets your pelvis, the injury is likely in the hip flexor. 

If there is severe pain or a physical inability to operate that muscle, you should consult your doctor, as surgery may be necessary to repair a completely torn muscle. If you have the resources, there are additional treatment options such as ultrasound therapy that you can receive from a physiotherapist.

If the pain is light enough for you to honestly manage yourself, rest is the key ingredient to recovery. There will be a 3-6 week rest period depending on the severity of the strain, sometimes less if it was more of a twinge than a full pull. Go through your stretches and pay close attention to what your body tells you. If you are fully pain free, begin with light exercises to test the muscle. Keep everything below half speed at first to test your jumping, your kicking, and your side to side movement. 

If you feel fine, gradually increase it. Don't go full speed until you have put half speed and three quarter speed training sessions under your belt without setback. The key to coming back from a muscle injury is to remember that this injured muscle has been without activity for a few weeks, and needs to be properly tuned up to catch up to the rest of your body. 

Always remember: It cannot be reiterated enough to be honest with yourself, and to listen to what your body is telling you. You understand your aches and pains best. You know what's normal and what's not normal. You're the only one who can decide that it's time to sit down and rest. There are other combines and games to play in the future, and missing one or two now can prevent you from having to miss the next several. 

Do you have a muscle injury you want to know how to recover from? Let us know!

Sources: 

National Institute of Health
Livestrong
WebMD