Groin Pain, or On Athletes, Pain, and Discipline

27May12

Non-athletes need discipline to keep working out; athletes need discipline to stop.

Groin pain happens. It happened to one combat-sport athlete—a Kyokushin fighter and instructor—who then asked me for advice on dealing with it.

Athletes, and especially combat-sport athletes, have high pain thresholds and high internal motivation. Those two traits combined make athletes vulnerable to self-inflicted chronic injuries—near certain if the athletes and those directing their training proceed oblivious to the signs of trauma.

Anyway, here is the athlete’s question on dealing with his groin pain and then my advice, which applies to any pain:

Since a few months I am afflicted with pubalgia, a pain inside my groin tendons, a sort of inflammation of the inner right adductor and the inner low corner of my right abdominal muscles. I think it is beginning to heal during these last days. In those months when I felt the pain, I did fewer and fewer side splits, while continuing to do front splits and some easy early morning stretching. But I want to resume my usual workout routine with no pain anymore.

I would like you to advise me what to avoid and what to do to solve my problem. Probably I could find the answer reading articles on your website but I need prompt advice from the source. I didn’t go to a physician because generally they say to cease any exercise, do an X-ray, then therapy, but I cannot stop training.

Reply:

It was an error to continue doing any splits and dynamic stretches (early morning stretching) when feeling pain in your groin. You could have gotten a hernia and adductor strain. Doing splits and dynamic stretches kept irritating the inflamed tissues of your lower abdomen and inner thigh and made them weaker. You can hope it has not made them weaker permanently, but only postponed your healing. Here is my advice:

1. Do not do any exercise that gives you any feeling in the injured side that is different from the uninjured side. When you have been injured, any exercise that is not approved by a physician treating your injury, any exercise that causes you even the lightest pain or an abnormal feeling, sets you back by weeks or months from the full recovery. It may even keep you from ever recovering. If you would like to never regain your full ability, all you have to do is to keep exercising through discomfort. Stopping training and following a proper injury treatment and rehabilitation program takes discipline.

2. Read and apply the advice in the following articles:

www.stadion.com/injuries-two-models-of-treating-sports-injuries/

www.stadion.com/injuries-best-advice-on-sports-injuries/

3. Find a specialist who can help you quickly and permanently fix your injury. I had good experience with physicians and therapists of the following specialties:

www.muscleactivation.com/find-a-specialist/

www.acbsp.com/searching.asp

www.icakusa.com/find-a-doctor/

If you insist on doing an exercise through pain, you can easily end up unable to do it ever, forever.

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6 Responses to “Groin Pain, or On Athletes, Pain, and Discipline”

  1. 1 Tony Ricci

    Good answer to the groin pain. I have had this stubborness (pride, fear of appearing weak) be a problem not only for me, but for the athletes I work with. The body is like a car with the oil “idiot” light on. You can stop and fix the oil problem, or just “gut it out” and drive your oil-less car until it’s ruined. This analogy seems to help some athletes make the decision to rest. The other angle is that groin pain is possibly one of the most complex subjects. Due to the nexus of the hip, the innominates, the sacrum, the pubic bone, and the intersection of so many major muscles, groin pain is often just a symptom of a problem elsewhere. Example: if the right femoral head “slides” forward in its socket leading to anterior impingement, eventual cartilage damage and arthritis–>new fake hip) the only symptom may be groin pain….or knee pain as I knew for one unfortunate. It is excellent advice to seek help from someone who looks at the whole picture (both hips, sacroiliac joint, feet, etc.). An xray of the area is almost indispensable. Try and get both sides and the sacroiliac joint for a complete picture as sacroiliac or pelvic malalignment can easily cause the problem but you’ll never know unless you can see the whole area. Once an xray shows that there is (or isn’t) a skeletal alignment problem or fracture) then it is easier to proceed with therapies. A good MAT therapist can be awesome as can several other types. Sometimes it takes trial and error since no one knows all the answers. One truth is this: if it hurts, don’t do it.

  2. 2 Manmohan Tagore

    Hi Mr Kurz, i was wondering if you could help me with advice for an injury. I was in my gym with one of the personal trainers. He noticed that i can only squat to a certain depth with good form before i round my lower back due to tight hips. He stupidly insisted on forcing me to squat deep while trying to maintain good form, and i stupidly listened to him! This was a month ago and since then my lower back hurts, i think its the paraspinal muscles.
    I am resting, not doing any sort of training as i dont want to make it worse. I am also going to the sauna a few times a week as i thought this might help. Is there anything else that you could advise that i do? My applied kinesiologist doctor is not back in the country until mid october.

  3. Mr. Tagore,

    Test activation of muscles of your buttocks. If it is off, then look-up ways of correcting it. Some simple ways are shown in posture correction exercises of Dr. Steve Hoffman at http://www.gettoyourcore.com/
    His exercises should help you with squatting deeper too.

  4. 4 Manmohan Tagore

    Thank you so much for this.

  5. The fighter has shown strong discipline and followed my advice on dealing with his groin pain. You can see the result here.


  1. 1 Groin Pain: How Discipline Won! « Tom Kurz’s Weblog

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