What is a Sports Hernia?

Sports hernias are not actually hernias, they are tears within the muscles and tendons of the lower abdomen, obliques, and or groin. Typical hernias are defined as gaps within the abdominal musculature, where the intestines protrude through the gap. These injuries usually are seen in athletes that have excessive hip and groin movement. 

What causes Sports Hernias? 

  • Intensive hip motions in flexion, extensions, abductions, and adduction. 
  • Most common sports with these movements include running, sports with kicking such as soccer, football, hockey, rugby, and swimming. 
  • Twisting of the hip and pelvis. 
  • Hyperextension of the trunk and the hips
  • Muscle imbalances of the hip musculature 
  • Usually, there is a shortening or tightness of a specific muscle, usually the hip flexors and hip adductors. And it is in combination with weakness of the core muscles. 

Symptoms of a Sports Hierna? 

When an individual has a sports hernia, they usually experience severe groin pain. For some individuals, the groin pain subsides with rest and returns when playing a sport. There can be bruising and tenderness at the spot of the tear. When diagnosing this injury, there are several different types of ways. One option includes imaging including CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound. The second way to examine a sports hernia is an examination by a physical therapist. The therapist will palpate the sight of the tear and inspect the movement patterns that cause the individual’s pain. 

Why is Physical Therapy important for Sports Hernias? 

Physical therapy is a non-surgical intervention that can provide relief of pain and return back to the sport. Since it is common to see a muscle imbalance in most individuals with sports hernias, physical therapy focuses on strengthening and stretching. Core stabilization exercises and strengthening exercises for the lower extremities improve the stabilization of the pelvis to prevent further injury. Stretching is important to add to your routine to decrease the tightness in the hip flexors and hip adductors. 

How to Prevent Sports Hernias? 

To prevent this injury, athletes must add these exercises to their training regime:


Abouelnaga, Walid Ahmed, and Nancy Hassan Aboelnour. “Effectiveness of Active Rehabilitation Program on Sports Hernia: Randomized Control Trial.” Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 43, no. 3, 2019, pp. 305–313., https://doi.org/10.5535/arm.2019.43.3.305

“Sports Hernia.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 19 July 2020, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hernias/sports-hernia

“Sports Hernia: Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery & Diagnosis.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21873-sports-hernia. “Physical Therapy for Sport Hernia.” Island Sports Physical Therapy, 18 Feb. 2020, https://islandsportspt.com/physical-therapy-sport-hernia-huntington/.


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