What do you think of when you hear “pull a groin muscle?” We know, we know. Nothing fun. But get yourself out of the fetal position and listen up. First, most groin strains can be treated successfully at home. Second, there are ways to help manage the pain as you heal.

What is groin strain?

A groin strain, or pulled groin muscle, happens when the muscles in the groin area get overstretched or torn. It’s not just the muscles on your inner thigh (AKA the adductor muscles), either. Technically, your lower abdominal muscles (lower abs) and the iliopsoas muscles (the muscles that attach your spine to your hips and thighs) are part of the groin area, too.i 

While groin strains are very common among athletes, even people who aren’t particularly athletic or don’t work out often can pull a groin muscle.i

What causes a pulled groin muscle?

One reason athletes like soccer players, hockey players, and dancers can pull a groin muscle is because their activities often require them to stop, twist, and change direction very quickly while their bodies are in motion. These movements can cause tearing and stretching of muscles, including in the groin area. 

Of course, a groin strain might happen while chasing a runaway toddler or dodging a co-worker with a full cup of coffee in the hallway. Any type of sudden movement in the groin area can cause a strain or pull, especially when the muscles are not properly warmed up. Lifting, pulling, or pushing heavy things is also a risk factor, and you can even pull a groin muscle little by little if you do work that puts strain on the same muscles every day.ii,

How can I tell if I’ve pulled a groin muscle?

Oh, you’ll know. Trust us. Right when you hurt yourself, you’ll probably feel a sharp, twinging pain in the injured muscle. You may feel a popping or snapping sensation. If you have muscle spasms, you might feel a stabbing pain each time the muscle twitches.i, iii Other symptoms can include: 

  • Trouble moving your leg or hip
  • Pain that gets worse when you pull your legs together (use the adductor muscles)
  • Tenderness, redness, and swelling
  • Bruising
  • Muscle weakness

What do I do to treat it?

Well, considering this article discusses stretches…we’ll get there. You shouldn’t stretch or use the muscle right away. Instead, consider the RICE method:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

You can use ice packs and bandages to get the “ice” and “compression” part of that. Or, if you want, make the most of cold and compression therapy with a cold therapy system.

After a few days of rest, when you’re in less pain, you can help move the healing process along by performing stretching and strengthening exercises.

Stretching Exercises

Start with gentle static stretches (not moving the muscle, just stretching), like stretches 1 and 2 below. Move on to dynamic stretching (stretches 3 and 4) when you can do the static stretches without pain. For each static stretch, hold the position for 30 seconds. You should try to repeat this several times a day, according to exercise physiologist Elizabeth Quinn.

  1. Seated short groin stretch: While seated on the floor, bend the knees, and bring the soles of the feet together in front of you. With a straight back, use your elbows to gently push your knees toward the floor until you feel a light stretch in the inner thigh, and hold the position.
  2. Seated long groin stretch: From a seated position, extend both legs out to the sides of your body to create a V shape. With a straight back, gently walk your hands forward as you bring your torso toward the floor and hold the position. Repeat this process leaning over each leg.
  3. Hip flexor stretch: Start in a forward lunge position, and lower the back knee to the floor. Keeping your shoulders above your hips, gently lean forward to stretch the muscles in the front of the hip and hold the position. Repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Swinging leg stretch: Balancing on one leg, swing the opposite leg forward and back, without forcing it to go too high. The motion should feel relaxed and not strain the muscles in the hip and groin. Swing each leg for 10 repetitions.

Strengthening Exercises

When you are ready to start stretching exercises for your pulled groin muscle recovery, you can also complement them with movements that will strengthen the muscles in the groin area. Again, start with static exercises, and then move on to dynamic ones.vii

  1. Bent-knee adductor exercise: Lie down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Use a small medicine ball placed between the knees to create resistance, and squeeze for five-second intervals. Repeat 10 times. Squeeze for longer and do more reps as your strength improves.  
  2. Straight-leg adductor exercise: Remain in a reclined position and extend the legs flat on the floor. Place the medicine ball between the ankles and do the same number of squeezes and releases as in exercise 1 above.
  3. Hip adduction against gravity: Lie on your side on the floor with the top ankle resting on the seat of a chair and the bottom leg under the chair. Slowly lift the bottom leg to touch the bottom of the chair seat, pause briefly, and then lower the leg back to the floor. Do this exercise 10 times on each leg. Repeat three times a day.
  4. Hip adduction with resistance bands: As groin strength improves, you can add more resistance and help make those muscles even stronger with resistance bands. Attach one end of the band to your ankle and the other end around an object that will not move—like the leg of a bed or a tree trunk. With your weight on the opposite leg, slowly move the leg with the resistance band toward the standing leg so the resistance increases, without bending your knee. Do 10 repetitions on each side and increase the number as strength improves. 

More treatment ideas

While rest, ice, compression, and elevation using bandages and ice packs or a cold therapy system works to reduce swelling, redness, and pain in the first few days after a groin pull, here are some other treatments you can try alongside stretching and strengthening exercises.iv,v,vi

If the pain is so bad that cold therapy doesn’t dull it enough, your doctor might recommend temporarily taking an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibuprofen or aspirin to help reduce pain and swelling during your recovery.i

After the initial swelling and inflammation goes down, some people like to apply therapeutic heat, like a heating pad. This can help loosen up stiff muscles and increase range of motion.

Massage is another popular method for reducing tension in the groin muscles while recovering from a pull or tear. You should only have gentle massage when the area is no longer tender to the touch so you don’t cause yourself any more pain. 

Breathe. Chill. You got this, champ.


  1.  Groin strain. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/groin-strain. Accessed February 22, 2024.

  2. What is a groin strain? Summit Medical Group. https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/adult_health/sma_groin_strain/. Accessed February 22, 2024.

  3.  What does a pulled groin muscle feel like? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/groin-pulls-4142070. Accessed February 22, 2024.

  4.  Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). University of Michigan. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tw4354spec.

  5.  Airaksinen O, Kolari P J, Miettinen It: Elastic bandages and intermittent pneumatic compression for treatment of acute ankle sprains. Arch Phys Med Rehabil.

  6.  Barroso M. What should I do about a pulled groin? Aaptiv. https://aaptiv.com/magazine/pulled-groin-exercises-recovery. Published January 3, 2019.

  7.  Quinn, E. The 4 best stretching exercises to ease groin pain. Verywelll Fit.
    https://www.verywellfit.com/best-stretching-exercises-for-groin-pain-3120314. Accessed February 22, 2024.

  8.  Should you ice or heat an injury? Southern California Orthopedic Institute.
    https://www.scoi.com/patient-resources/education/articles/should-you-ice-or-heat-injury. Published June 12, 2017.

  9.  Dallas ME. Massage right after muscle injury may boost healing. MedicineNet.
     https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=159934. Published July 3, 2012.