Groin pain is a very common problem among football players. This randomised study has shown that a simple exercise, done once a week, significantly reduces the incidence of groin problems in semi-professional male football players.1.
This cluster randomised study looked at the effect of a single strengthening exercise on the incidence of groin pain in semi-professional Norwegian male football players. A variation on the Copenhagen Adduction exercise was used as the intervention, with the exercise being modified to provide three levels of difficulty. Players in the intervention group were asked to complete an eight-week pre-season strength protocol consisting of between 2-3 sessions per week. This dropped to a single weekly session of 12-15 repetitions (on each side) once the season had started.
A total of 652 players (35 teams) were recruited for the study. They were followed for a 28-game competitive season. The primary outcome measure was the presence of a ‘groin problem’ measured using the OSTRC Overuse Injury Questionnaire. The key finding was that the probability of reporting groin pain was 41% less in the intervention group. No adverse effects were reported during the study while the incidence of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) was very low.
As with other injury prevention research, compliance during the study was generally poor. It is important to highlight that there were a number of players that withdrew during the study from the intervention group. A large number were also excluded from the final statistical analysis due to poor compliance (leaving only 125 players in the intervention group).
While there are clearly some methodological considerations that limit this particular study’s findings, this is yet more evidence that highlights the effectiveness of neuromuscular training/strength programmes to prevent football injuries. Given that the exercise is very simple, does not appear to be associated with any significant adverse effects and only needs to be done once per week it would be sensible to recommend this to players, coaches and trainers. Ideally the study would be repeated in female players and in players from other levels of play to see whether these results are generalisable to these groups.
1 Harøy J, Clarsen B, Wiger EG, et al The Adductor Strengthening Programme prevents groin problems among male football players: a cluster-randomised controlled trial Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 10 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098937