I believe I strained or partially tore a groin muscle 6 weeks back. I’ve tried to stay off it as much as possible, and ice the area several times a day, but I still experience some tightness in the area. Should I be pain and tightness free when it’s time to resume exercise and activity on it? Or is there going to be some light tightness in the area since it hasn’t been used extensively for 6 weeks?
While I cannot make specific recommendations regarding your case without doing a thorough evaluation, I can offer some general information on groin strain injuries and a typical course of recovery. Understand that every person is different and the demands that you place on the muscles used with activity will vary a lot based on the activity and intensity level of that activity.
Typically, an adductor(groin) strain will present after a recent overload of the tissue; doing more than the muscle can handle, leading to muscular/tendon damage. Pain will be aggravated by activating that muscle, by stretching the muscle, and by touching the injured portion of the muscle/tendon. If these things are not causing pain, a Physical Therapist would want to rule out other sources of pain in the area.
Recovery from a muscle strain injury can vary a lot based on activity level, overall health, and the muscle involved. The typical rehab process for a muscle strain would include calming down the painful inflammatory processes followed by gradually strengthening the muscle and tendon to promote healing to the best degree possible to avoid re-injury. This process can take anywhere from six-weeks to six-months for full return to activity depending on how long symptoms have been present and may extend with re-injury.
Coming to your question a little more specifically, I think some “tightness” or even mild soreness is normal, especially after six-weeks of disuse. It is important to note that a return of symptoms/pain is not normal. Six-weeks after a muscle strain is often okay to initiate light to moderate exercise but care must be taken to gradually build load rather than going back to prior activity level that caused injury. A typical progression for rehabilitating muscular injury would start with gentle exercises that contract the involved muscle without moving the joint through motion to get good muscle activation without overstressing the injured tissue along with gentle stretching. A physical therapist would gradually increase the intensity of your exercise and progress you to returning to sport activities when you are ready. A physical therapist will be able to more accurately measure strength which can be very beneficial in grading readiness for return to activity. This is where physical therapy can be very helpful.
I would encourage you to seek evaluation from a physical therapist to assess your injury and help you build back to full function. Some things PT can do for muscle injuries include identifying the structure responsible for your pain (specific muscle vs other source in your case), soft tissue techniques to improve the healing process, use of therapeutic modalities to reduce inflammation and promote the healing process, provide education on safe exercises that likely will not re-injure the muscle, and provide exercise and stretching progressions that gradually load the muscle/tendon to help get it back to full function. Hopefully this is helpful and please reach back with any further questions.
**This reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.