Chiefs dynamic wide receiver Tyreek Hill went down late in the fourth quarter during Sunday’s game against the Broncos and didn’t return. In the post-game, Coach Andy Reid provided more information on the injury, confirming it was a “groin strain” and that the team will play the situation by ear.
A groin strain can be a tricky injury, especially for an explosive, change of speed athlete like Tyreek Hill. To understand why, I’ll dive into the following:
- What a groin strain is
- How it affects movement
- The timeline for return for Tyreek Hill
- Future considerations
Lets start with the injury:
I. Tyreek Hill “Groin Strain”
Groin strain is in quotations because it’s a nebulous term that most commonly refers to one of two things:
A strain of the illiopsoas (a group of two muscles):
Or a strain of the adductors (a group of five muscles):
In multidirectional sports such as football, adductors strains account for the highest percent of groin injuries (click here, here, here, here, and here for more info). These muscles are stressed during dynamic movements such as sprinting, twisting, turning, acceleration/deceleration and cutting and further help stabilize the pelvis/hips (click here, here, here, or here for more info).
Tyreek Hill is known for his change of speed, top speed, and cutting abilities – each placing a huge stress on these muscle groups. That’s why this injury could be problematic for him. That being said, his timeline for return really depends on the severity of the injury…
II. Tyreek Hill Timeline For Return
Muscle strains are categorized into three different grades, each one corresponding to a greater degree of tear in the muscle fibers:
We don’t know what grade of tear that Tyreek Hill has but we do know that he practiced in full on Wednesday which leads me to believe that it’s a grade 1 tear. However, he only went through a limited practice on Thursday which either means he didn’t respond well or the medical staff is trying to limit his activity headed into the Browns game. Even if if Tyreek Hill does play this Sunday, there are a few things to be cognizant of…
III. Tyreek Hill Re-Injury Risk
The reality with most muscle injuries, including adductor strains, is that previous injury is the highest risk factor for a future injury. In fact, some research shows that players with a previous groin strain are seven times more likely to re-injure the groin compared to their non-injured counterparts. Further, the rate of groin strains increases as the level of competition increases.
For these reasons, Tyreek Hill has a higher risk of re-injury. Then you factor in his elite start/stop explosiveness, speed and agility, and that puts even more stress on those particular muscle groups. There’s the potential for that stress level to be greater than what the muscle is capable of handling. Muscle stress > muscle capacity is the basic formula for muscle injury.
IV. All in All
All in all, Tyreek Hill has a groin strain that doesn’t seem to be too serious, most likely a grade 1 adductor tear. Although a mild injury, it can be tricky because these muscle groups are constantly stressed during running, acceleration/deceleration and change of direction movements, and even trickier for players like Tyreek Hill who place additional stress on them with elite acceleration, speed, and agility.
It was a good sign that Tyreek Hill fully participated in Chiefs practice on Wednesday but his limited participation on Thursday could point to some uncertainty in his playing status. The final injury report on Friday will be another indicator for his chances of playing Sunday and if there’s any doubt, the Chiefs schedule may give us more insight into the team’s risk/reward calculation:
If Tyreek Hill was in fact held out Thursday due to his groin injury responding poorly and it continues to bother him, it would make a lot of sense for the Chiefs medical staff to hold him out this week in a relatively easy matchup against the perpetually in-turmoil Brown. If he ends up playing, I expect the medical staff to have a close eye on him during the game to detect any re-aggravation and pull him out quickly. That would potentially give him two weeks to recover before the Rams game on 11/18.