THE CLINIC: Groin Pain, Starting After a Run

Thu, 13 Sept. 2012 - 1:47 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I run five times a week, totaling 25 or 30 miles. I'm a 62-year-old male, 155 pounds, 5' 11", and have been running for 25 years. I usually run on asphalt. I'm a slight pronator with a heavy heel strike. Several hours after running, I have been experiencing pain on the inside of my upper right leg or groin area. The pain is usually gone by the next day. Distance appears to cause more discomfort than intensity does. Though my left leg is not affected, the right leg has nagged me for several years, and lately seems to be getting worse.
 
Michael Wilcox
Tallahassee, FL
 
ANSWER:
The pain you describe sounds like it may be a thinning of the cartilage that protects the ball and socket in the hip. A thorough evaluation, either by a certified chiropractic sports provider or an orthopedic surgeon, is called for. In addition to a physical evaluation, I would have them take x-rays of both hips; you can get a pretty comprehensive understanding of your hip health with these assessment tools. You and your doctor can then decide what is the best fitness plan for you going forward, including shoe and running surface changes, crosstraining, and gentle flexibility work.
 
Chris Sorenson, DC, CCSP
St. Cloud, MN
 
ANSWER:
Groin pain is not very common among runners, but it can be due to stress fractures of the pelvis, which in this area can be caused by excessive tension on a muscle. Your complaint of long-standing pain in the area might be due to excessive tension on the muscle, and only now as you are getting older has this become a problem for the bone. However, stress fractures usually cause increasing pain on the run that resolves afterward.
 
The increasing symptoms after the run are more suggestive to me of muscle strain. Again, this is not common in runners, but here are a few scenarios that might cause it. When running, the groin muscles of the leg that is swinging through the air contract to help elevate the pelvis as the leg swings. Facing traffic, the right side of the road is higher than the left. If you always run facing traffic, your right groin muscles (and left hip muscles) will have to work harder to lift your pelvis enough for your right leg to clear the road. A second scenario is that you turn your right leg either inward or outward too much. In either case, the abnormal orientation of the leg forces the muscles to take on slightly different functions than they were designed for. Try running facing the other direction on the road if you've been running against traffic. In the other scenario, you can try to consciously rotate your leg inward or outward—or try a corrective shoe—to counteract the undesired rotation.
 
Stephen Perle, DC
Bridgeport, CT

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(RUNNING & FITNEWS® September / October 2009 • Volume 27, Number 5)



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