Sports Hernia - It is Not What You Think

Despite its misleading name, a “Sports Hernia” is not a hernia at all. This painful groin condition is actually called Athletic Pubalgia and is a result of torn abdominal muscles that attach to the pelvis.

Traditional Hernia vs. Sports Hernia

A traditional hernia (commonly inguinal and umbilical most common) is a result of an internal organ that pushes through a weakened muscle or tissue to protrude outwards.

  • A traditional hernia is usually found in your abdomen between chest and hips but can be as low as upper groin or thigh.
  • Symptoms typically include: a lump in the affected area that goes away when you lay down.
  • Risk factors: anything that may weaken abdominal wall such as: obesity, history of pregnancy, diarrhea or constipation, persistent coughing/sneezing, family history, smoking, or frequent lifting of heavy objects without abdominal bracing.
    • Overtime, a sports hernia can lead to an inguinal hernia due to weakened abdominal muscles
  • Inguinal hernia: 75%-90% of all hernias are within the inguinal canal where the thigh joint meets the abdominal wall.

A Sports Hernia is the result of torn tendons of any soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) where they attach to the pelvis.

  • Typically, this involves disruption to the abdomen (obliques or side abs most common) and there may be tearing to adductors (inner thigh muscle) where they attach to your pelvis
  • Symptoms: Deep groin/ lower abdominal pain that is increased with exertion (cutting, running etc.), pain with sit up
  • Usually caused by a muscular imbalance between your hip/thigh muscles and your abdomen

Why Would I Get a Sports Hernia?

Certain sports or activities predispose you to a sports hernia. These include those that involve running or explosive movements in combination with twisting, cutting, and/or frequent turns in any direction, such as:

  • American Football
  • Ice hockey
  • Skiing
  • Running
  • Martial Arts

How Can Physical Therapy Help a Sports Hernia?

There are many things a physical therapist can do to help alleviate your pain and discomfort, while allowing your tissue (and those surrounding it) to heal and strengthen.

If you are suffering from a Sports Hernia, schedule an appointment online at one of our five local clinics. We have a talented and motivated staff ready to help you achieve your injury rehabilitation goals.