Groin Injuries in Hockey Players

by Matt Pugliese
2.21 Blog

If you’re following the hockey teams competing at the Olympics this year, you may be hearing a lot about groin injuries. The prevalence of groin injuries in hockey players has been well documented. In fact, groin strains account for 10-11% percent of all injuries for professional ice hockey and soccer players throughout the world. In the past, the cause of these injuries was often attributed to tight muscles and a lack of flexibility. However, more recent research suggestions that muscle imbalances are most likely to blame. A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that players who strained an adductor muscle had exhibited 18% less hip adduction strength in the preseason, as compared to players who did not get injured.
So what does that mean exactly? In order to better understand groin injuries, it helps to understand the mechanics of skating. To propel forward during the skating stride, the athlete utilizes the muscles on the outside of the hip, known as the hip abductors and external rotators. These muscles are generally well developed in hockey athletes. When a player needs to slow down or come to a quick stop, they use the muscles of the groin (the adductors) to stabilize the hip. When a strength imbalance exists between the strong hip abductors and weaker hip adductors, the athlete is at more risk for developing a groin strain.

Muscle imbalances develop over time, but when a groin strain occurs the player feels it immediately. The most obvious symptom is pain in the groin area, especially when moving the leg to the affected side and the player will not be able to skate with any speed. The immediate treatment of groin strains is the same as that used for other musculoskeletal injuries; ice and compression are essential during the first week. Injuries that result in profound weakness or an inability to walk may be more severe and should be further evaluated by a physician.

To help prevent groin strains altogether, hockey players should consider incorporating exercises that strengthen their groin muscles into their training. Examples include exercises that involve the legs moving together against as a resistance band, and dynamic balance activities such as standing and reaching to simulate the movements that are encountered during regular game play.

Matt Pugliese is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with the Joint Mobility Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Topics: Featured, Orthopedics, Rehabilitation and Fitness
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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

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Hospital for Special Surgery
April 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

The NHL playoffs are underway, and having a strong abdominal and core muscle strength is important for keeping players in top form. Gregory Reinhardt, HSS Physical Therapist, says: "While skating, the activation of a hockey player's oblique muscles is crucial for their ability to constantly push off from their skates." To read more about core strength for hockey players, visit http://hss.edu/onthemove/core-strength-for-hockey-players/.

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