I 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.