Is running making my ‘Gilmore’s groin’ worse?

Jane mugshot for JQAI am a fit 61-​year-​old. Last year I star­ted train­ing for the Great North Run, never hav­ing run before. I have developed an ache at the top of my thigh, which the GP says is “Gilmore’s groin”. Am I mak­ing things any worse by con­tinu­ing to run? Would warm-​up exer­cises help?

Gilmore’s groin” is also known as sports her­nia or ath­letic pub­al­gia. It isn’t a true her­nia, but an area of tis­sue weak­ness, strain or tear deep within the groin. It is hard to dia­gnose, so this is usu­ally done by exclud­ing other pos­sib­il­it­ies, and the only “solu­tion” seems to be sur­gical repair – as long as the exact area of tis­sue weak­ness can be iden­ti­fied (not always pos­sible).

While I have no reason to doubt your GP’s word, you should be aware that there are many causes of sports-​related groin pain – sports spe­cial­ists say that it’s one of the trick­i­est areas to dia­gnose accur­ately – so it might be worth­while seek­ing a second opin­ion from a sports phys­i­cian, to rule out other cul­prits, includ­ing back and hip prob­lems, both of which can send pain to the groin. You should also under­stand that if it is a sport’s her­nia, scans such as MRI, x-​ray or ultra­sound are unlikely to show up any­thing.

As well as con­firm­ing a dia­gnosis, a sports medi­cine spe­cial­ist will also be able to guide you on self-​help meas­ures, should it turn out that you do have Gilmore’s groin and an oper­a­tion is not suit­able – or not what you want.

It is fairly cer­tain that if you simply con­tinue to run, you will aggrav­ate the weak­ness and may end up unable to run at all. So you should def­in­itely stop for now – and pos­sibly for ever.

At the other extreme, if you stop doing all your fit­ness activ­it­ies, the con­di­tion may well quieten down so much that you scarcely notice it. But I ima­gine it is unlikely you will want to give up being act­ive — and there are power­ful reas­ons why you should work to stay fit as you enter the later stages of life.

One type of exer­cise that is thought help­ful (but not a cure) is core strength­en­ing: tar­get­ing the deep lying abdom­inal muscles (pel­vic floor and trans­versus muscles) and the obliques (twist­ing muscles of the torso).

All of this simply under­lines the need for you to get expert cus­tom­ised advice from a sports phys­i­cian or sports physio­ther­ap­ist. Your focus must be to ensure that your brief exper­i­ence of run­ning does not end up under­min­ing the rest of your life­style.

As for warm-​ups: ALL forms of exer­cise should begin with an appro­pri­ate warm up to pre­pare the body physiolo­gic­ally for the stresses it is about to undergo. While it may not be the cause of your cur­rent prob­lem, skip­ping the warm-​up will for sure increase your injury risk.

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