DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 27-year-old dancer sidelined with groin pain. My doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong, but he has ordered me to rest. I can rest only for a short time. My rent and grocery money come from dancing. Can you give me an idea of what I have and how long it will take for me to get over it? – J.A.

ANSWER: My guess is iliopsoas tendinitis. The iliopsoas tendon is a conjoint tendon shared by two muscles coming from the back and the pelvis. The tendon inserts into the femur, the large thigh bone. It assists in bending the thigh. This is an injury common to dancers and many other athletes. It usually comes from overworking the tendon. Have you been learning any new routines?

Stand on your good leg. In one motion, move the leg (on the side of the painful groin) backward, then out to the side and then forward. If it hurts to make that movement, you can be pretty sure that the iliopsoas tendon is inflamed.

Rest is essential for the tendon to heal. “Rest” is a relative word. You don’t have to take to your bed. You should not make any movements that are painful. If you can walk without pain, do so.

Anti-inflammatory medicines can lessen pain and ease inflammation. Aspirin is as good as and cheaper than the other anti-inflammatories. The downside of aspirin is its potential to irritate the stomach and to cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. That limits its use, especially in older people. You are young and should be able to tolerate it without problems. If you can’t, pick one of the many others – Advil, Aleve, and on and on.

At this late date, cold applications to the groin won’t help. Heat might. The tendon, however, lies deep in the groin, and it’s difficult for heat to penetrate so deeply. All the same, give heat a try. Soak a washcloth or towel in hot water and apply it to the groin for 15 minutes, three times a day.

You should be doing ordinary tasks without pain in a week or two, and back to dancing in three weeks.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am into a stretching program. I can’t find anywhere the time recommended to hold a stretch. Can you give it to me? – B.B.

ANSWER: Recommendations for the length of time to hold a stretch are all over the place. I can give you what many experts believe to be reasonable times.

When you’re first starting a program, hold the stretch 10 to 15 seconds. Stretch only to the point of mild muscle pulling, never to the point of pain.

As you get more used to stretching, you can hold the stretch longer – 20 to 30 seconds.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am in the habit of drinking two beers before playing tennis. The beers relax me, and they keep me hydrated. I’ve been told this isn’t a good idea. What are your thoughts? – J.K.

ANSWER: I don’t rank it up there with the world’s greatest ideas.

Alcohol slows reaction time. It can also affect a person’s balance and coordination. The hydration effect of beer is not great; it makes you urinate.

Ever try deep breathing for relaxation and water for hydration? Your tennis game might make huge improvements if you do.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 45-year-old female. I walk four to five miles, five days a week. I think I am in good shape, although I would like to lose a few pounds. My problem is my large calves, which I hate. I would like to reduce their size. Is there any exercise that will aid me in accomplishing this? – L.L.

ANSWER: No exercise selectively removes fat from a particular area. People with large stomachs do sit-ups until they are blue in the face in the hope of reducing their waists. It doesn’t work. Fat leaves the body from all fat depots, not just the ones where the muscles are exercising.

I am fairly certain that your large calves are muscles. Exercise is not going to slim muscles. It’s going to build them up. I don’t have an answer for you.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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