Can Goalies Prevent Groin Strains?

It seems that groin injuries are just part of being a goalie. Every season, NHL goalies are sidelined with groins pulls and strains. And if NHLers, with access to the best trainers, the time to dedicate fully to their game, and money to buy the best treatments are still getting hurt, what chance do recreational goalies have?


Recreational goalies, in minor hockey and adult leagues deal with lots of groin injuries. On our Goalie Strength Instagram page, we gets lots of messages from goalies who are recovering from a groin injury.


Can we completely avoid groin pulls and strains? No. Sometimes they are just going to happen. Hockey is a dynamic, explosive game and goalies get into strange positions all the time. Goalies often need to explode into a crazy save out of nowhere, and that is when they get hurt.


So there are certain situations where you simply can’t do anything to prevent the injury. But I believe there are many things we can do to reduce the chance of getting a groin injury, and also ways to train our body to reduce the severity of a groin pull, and recover quickly.


Here are some of my thoughts:


  • Sometimes it’s a volume issue. If you’re playing a ton of games, they can take a toll on your body and leave you more susceptible to injury. Especially if your mechanics fall off as you get tired, you might end up using more of your groin for a movement than you intend to, and that is where the injury happens. The solution for this is to monitor your body - if you’re playing a lot, take it easier in practice. If you can, take a day off. Lighten up your off-ice training, eat lots of good food, and get your sleep. 


  • Strength in the groin muscles makes a big difference here. Muscles give out and get hurt when they can’t handle a load. For example,you’ll never pull your groin if you’re standing and you lift your leg out to the side. There simply isn’t enough load on the muscles to cause an injury. But put all your weight on the groin muscles as you stretch to the side in a save and that is where an injury can happen. The solution here is to progressively strengthen the groin muscles so that movements in a game make less of an impact. If your groin muscles are stronger, they can handle more. Some of my favourite exercises for strengthen the groin muscles are Copenhagen planks, lateral squats, and back squats.


  • Another reason goalies could hurt their groin muscles is because the rest of their body isn’t functioning properly. For example, if you have weak hamstrings, or glute muscles that aren’t doing their share of the work, your groin is forced to handle more of the load than it is designed for. In an ideal world (and what the exercises I share should help with), your feet, calves, hamstrings, quads, and hip muscles are all activated, strong, and doing their job. When they’re not, too much of the load falls on certain muscles that aren’t prepared and they get hurt. This is true for all of the body, not just the groin muscles. Make sure you are training all the muscles of your lower body - I truly believe that strong and coordinated calves, hamstrings, groin muscles, feet, quads, and glutes will greatly reduce the chance of lower body injuries. You’ll also recover faster.


  • When a goalie gets a groin pull, the assumption is that they didn’t warm up properly. I don’t know that this is true. I think warm ups help, but I don’t know for sure that a warm up will make a big difference. I always recommend a proper warm up before games and practices, with light aerobic work, mobility exercises, and some dynamic stretches. I think it helps. Worst case, it gets you primed for the game and makes you feel good. I can’t say 100% that it reduces injury risk, but it makes most goalies feel good and that’s also important.


Hopefully this helps. The thinking on this stuff is always evolving, but progressively strengthening your body and ensuring everything is functioning well can only help.

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