Phoenix Podiatrist Explains Anthony Davis's Groin Pull in Game 4 of the Playoffs


Though I'm a Suns fan (hey, I live here now!), being in sports medicine with a focus in injury prevention--I hate seeing players go down with injuries. Patient education is a big passion of mine, so here I am to give you the 411 on what happened to the Lakers Anthony Davis today in Game 4 of the playoffs today.  Anthony Davis pulled his groin in the 2nd quarter after going up for a lay up on a drive attempt with Jae Crowder defending and landed in an awkward position. We immediately saw him grab the upper thigh of his left leg and he was out the rest of the game.

We hear the term "groin" a lot. Whether it's the location of lymph nodes or a muscular injury- so I will start by reviewing what we mean anatomically with the team "groin."

The term groin refers to the fold between the abdomen and thigh, you may have heard this called the "inguinal region." A pulled groin refers to the adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh. These are the hip adductors, meaning they help with rotation to bring the thigh closer to the knee towards the center of the body. Just like many muscles make up what we call the "calf", many muscles make up the area of the groin. These specifically are the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnis, gracillis, and pectineus. The names don't matter as much as the function and location. See picture.

The term "muscle pull" refers to a strain that puts too much stress on the muscle, here at the groin region as pictured above. A groin pull means the muscle or muscles of the inner thigh get over stretched, even torn because they are pulled/torqued forcefully. There are 3 levels (degrees) of a groin pull and this is categorized by severity. Knowing the severity of any injury is important to predict recovery time.

1st Degree: Pain that is mild, which causes a small degree of strength loss and decreased ability for movement

2nd Degree: Pain that is moderate with moderate strength loss and tissue damage. Tissue damage here means over pulling so much to cause partial tearing of one or more muscles at the groin/inner upper thigh region. 

3rd Degree: Severe pain with severe loss of function and strength due a complete tear of a muscle .

According to the team doctors, Davis sustained a Grade 1 or First Degree groin pull. Normally a grade 1 pull takes 10-14 days to heal. Do I think Anthony Davis is going to take 2 weeks off to heal this pull in the middle of the Playoffs? No, if it's a true Grade 1 injury--I think he'll end up playing Game 5. I'm not Miss Cleo though, so don't take my word for it.  

As stated before, Davis came down in a weird way after going up for a lay up during this game-so his left deep inner thigh muscles got over stretched and pulled on, likely from the quick pivot down to the court. But remember this whole season Anthony Davis has had multiple lower extremity injuries. Just as recent as Game 3 against The Suns, Anthony Davis played through a knee sprain when he hyperextended his right knee in the 2nd half of the game. Last month he was out for a right calf strain, and 3 months prior an Achilles injury. If you look at the anatomy of the hip and thigh muscles, you'll see they connect from the pelvis to the femur bone and the femur to the tibia. If you look at the anatomy of the leg the tibia is linked to the heel. It's all a chain of muscles and their tendons down the leg. Is there a correlation between the right knee, calf, and Achilles? Yes. 100%. All these muscles are linked in a chain. Could this have contributed to the groin pull of the inner thigh muscles on the contralateral (left) side? Yes. Seasoned athletes like Anthony Davis have the best trainers, but the body does have limitations. These types of strains are usually chronic overuse injuries, here on top of the fact he came down it mechanically in an awkward way. 

Because of the location of the groin as part of the hip adductor group, hip stretches to improve flexibilty and strength can make a big difference. Like mentioned, everything moves down a chain from the low back/pelvis to the heels/feet. So a balance of flexibilty and strength is very important for all the muscles of the lower extremity. That being said, seasoned athletes like Anthony Davis have the best trainers, doctors, and therapists in the nation-- but the body does have limitations. No matter how routine you get maintenance on a car--if you drive it over pot holes, starting and stopping aggressively in 2-3 hour spurts--at 150K miles it's not going to run like it did brand new. The body is no different, those guys go hard-- of course they're going to have wear and tear. Since there was an extreme torque on the adductors- that's forceful from a mechanical standpoint in itself. That said, ALL of Davis's injuries typically are a function of strains, over stretching, and chronic overuse. Rest, Ice, and Compression are all components of healing--the most important being REST. Chances are the Laker's Anthony Davis isn't going to sit out for the final games of the playoffs...but can you blame him? -

Feel free to leave any questions or comments. Thanks for reading. Oh, and GO SUNS!!!

 -Dr. Shylaja Arya

Dr. Shylaja Arya Dr. Arya is the owner of Arya Foot & Ankle, a podiatry practice that serves the greater Phoenix area with same day, Saturday, and lunch time appointments. She is a yoga instructor, tennis player, and shoe lover.

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