How Did Andy Murray Strain His Groin and How Did the Physiotherapist Diagnose and Treat It?

Andy Murray is finally out of Wimbledon after being beaten over four sets by Rafa Nadal in the second semi final played on Friday 1st July. Both players went into the semi-final carrying injuries and this is not surprising after two weeks of tennis in a Grand Slam competition on grass courts.

Murray had to have a treatment by the physiotherapist during the quarter final against Lopez as well as having the physiotherapist come out on court during the semi-final against Nadal for a quick chat. Clearly Murray would have been receiving physiotherapy between the two matches and the physiotherapy treatment was clearly successful, as he did seem uninhibited by the minor groin sprain.

What injury did Andy Murray have?

In the quarter final with Feliciano Lopez, Andy Murray picked up a mild groin strain. These injuries can be incredibly painful and debilitating especially when there is a tear, and in some stubborn cases these tears can require surgery.

A sprain, rupture or tear in the muscle usually occurs when sprinting, changing direction or in rapid movements of the leg against resistance such as kicking a ball as in football or the sudden change in direction as in tennis. The likelihood of this increases if a thorough warm-up has not been undertaken first or if there is a sudden unanticipated slip or slide such as changing direction and the weight bearing leg slips.

What is a groin strain?

A groin strain is a tear or rupture to any one of the adductor muscles. There are five adductor muscles, the pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus and the gracilis and adductor magnus

The main function of the adductors is to pull the legs together in a movement described as adduction. During normal walking they are used in pulling the swinging leg towards the middle to maintain balance.

How bad is the groin strain?

All muscle strains or tears are graded 1, 2, or 3 depending on how bad they are. Grade one is a minor tear where less than 10% of fibres are damaged. Grade 2 is a moderate tear and can be anything from 10 to 90% of fibres torn. For this reason, grade 2 injuries are often termed 2+ or 2-. Grade 3 injuries are the most serious being either partial or full ruptures.

It is most likely that Murray received a grain 1 sprain as it would be unlikely that he would have played as well as he did against Nadal with anything more severe.

Symptoms of a groin strain

Grade 1
• Discomfort in the groin or inner thigh. This may not be noticed until after exercise stops.
• The groin muscles will usually feel tight.
• There may be an area that is tender to touch
• Walking is normal, discomfort may only be when running or even just on changes in direction.

Grade 2
• A sudden sharp pain in the groin area or adductor muscles during exercise.
• Tightening of the groin muscles that may not be present until the following day.
• There may be minor bruising or swelling (this might not occur until a couple of days after the initial injury).
• Weakness and possibly pain on contracting the adductor muscles (squeeze your legs together).
• Discomfort or pain on stretching the muscle.
• Walking may be affected. Running is painful.

Grade 3

• Severe pain during exercise, often on changing direction suddenly when sprinting.
• Inability to contract the groin muscles (squeeze your legs together).
• Substantial swelling and bruising on the inner thigh within 24 hours.
• Pain on attempting to stretch the groin muscles.
• It may be possible to feel a lump or gap in the muscles.

Treatment for a groin strain

It is important to rest following the injury to allow the injured muscle to properly heal. Allow pain to guide your level of activity; this means that activities that cause symptoms should be avoided.

Gentle stretching of the adductor muscles is helpful, but it should not be painful. Stretching excessively can be harmful and slow the healing process
Apply ice to the injured area in the acute phase (first 48 hours after injury), and then after activities. Ice will help calm the inflammatory response and stimulate blood flow to the area.

Before activities, gentle heating can help loosen the muscle. Apply a heat pack to the groin prior to stretching or exercising. As a general rule of thumb, remember to heat before, and ice after.

The physiotherapist at the Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic is fully qualified and experienced in treating groin sprains as well as being able to offer advice and re-evaluate old injuries to prevent recurrence. With rehabilitation and management old injuries need not cause more problems.

If you have or have had a groin sprain and are in the process of returning to sport make an appointment for a FREE EVALUATION with our physiotherapist.

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