A sports hernia is a type of groin injury that occurs during strenuous physical activity. This kind of injury can affect male and female athletes, and it usually affects athletes who participate in contact sports such as American football, rugby, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, and boxing.
A sports hernia isn’t the same as a torn abdominal muscle or an inguinal hernia—instead, it occurs when an athlete over-extends their muscles during training or competition.
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What is a sports hernia?
A sports hernia, formally known as an inguinal hernia, is the result of abdominal contents pushing through a weak point in the lower abdomen. This weak point may be from an injury or surgery and can cause pain to any region of the pubic bone.
A common treatment for this condition involves an abdominoplasty to reinforce the abdominal wall with synthetic mesh material or fat grafts. However, physicians usually prescribe taking anti-inflammatory medication for this condition and lifestyle changes as well.
These lifestyle changes could involve lessening your physical activity until you heal enough for physical activity.
It’s important that if you have these symptoms, you do seek out medical attention. It’s possible it could be something more serious than just a sports hernia! The most important thing to remember about sports hernias is that they are treated differently depending on severity.
The first step in determining severity is by asking how long it has been going on and where the pain occur. If the answer is weeks or months, there may be scar tissue forming and thus require more time to heal before returning to physical activity.
If it’s a few days, then it could simply be irritation from athletic activities such as running or jumping, which would require only some rest until symptoms subside.
Causes of a sports hernia
Sports hernias are most common in the groin area and occur when there’s an injury to the muscles, tendon, or cartilage that surrounds the inguinal ring. This causes an indirect tear of any of these tissues and can cause acute pain, which affects athletes during games or activities.
Sports hernias are most often caused by chronic strains to the muscle fibers within the inguinal canal rather than a single traumatic event.
However, poor conditioning, over straining while training, unsupportive gear or clothes, previous injuries to this area, weak abdominal muscles, and lack of flexibility may also play a part in causing the condition.
The best way to prevent it from happening is to avoid stressing your groin as much as possible and maintain a high level of fitness through regular exercise.
Risk factors for developing a sports hernia
Sports hernias, also known as exercise-induced abdominal pain, are caused by either muscle overuse or exercise-induced trauma to the abdominal wall muscles.
This type of injury can happen from excessive crunches, running up and down hills, soccer headers, or even just heavy weightlifting.
The imbalance in the pull on these weakened muscles often leads to an extended psoas tendon—a common cause of lower back pain that originates from the spine and attaches in front of the hip joint.
The strength difference created by this psoas tendon can pull on nearby abdominal organs and eventually damage the tissue that holds them in place.
Hernias occur when an internal organ or tissue protrudes through an opening in the muscle wall.
They can affect any part of the body, but most often, they develop in the abdomen and groin. Hernias are categorized by their location—inguinal, femoral, umbilical, or epigastric—or whether they happen suddenly and are known as strangulated or gradually occur and are called ruptured.
Sports-related hernias are strangled—they develop over time because of repeated movements or being overstretched.
People who participate in vigorous physical activity involving twisting, such as golfers, soccer players, and basketball players, have an increased risk of developing a sports-related hernia.
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How to self-diagnose a sports hernia?
It’s hard to diagnose your own sports hernia, but there are some symptoms you should pay attention to. Since this kind of injury is so specific, they will likely be only mild aches or pains that go away when the workout ends and don’t get better.
The easiest way to figure out if you have a sports hernia or not would be to stop working out for 2-3 days and see if the pain persists. If it does, you may want to take a few minutes before working out again and see how it feels afterward.
This can tell you what you need to do next! If you feel good after those exercises, try lightening up on the intensity for a few more workouts and then ramping back up to find your maximum capacity without feeling pain.
If you feel like you’re past that point where it could be solved by just going easy on yourself in workouts, speak with a medical professional about getting an MRI done or an appointment with a physical therapist.
These two tests help doctors make accurate diagnoses. You’ll still want to monitor things closely until these findings come back, though!
Treatments options for treating an acute (sudden onset) tear
Athletes who perform high-impact activities, such as running, jumping, and kicking, may be at risk for developing an acute tear of the psoas tendon.
Tears are typically most likely to occur when these athletes have already been weakened by injury or during physical activity following periods of inactivity.
When a tear occurs, it is important to consult with your doctor or surgeon immediately because even though a rupture can sometimes heal without surgery on its own, they are also prone to re-tearing.
Typical treatment options include bed rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), myofascial release techniques, and muscle-strengthening exercises.
How to prevent Sports Hernia from recurring
- 1.Stretching Before exercise, do some stretching of the muscle group that you’ll be using.
- 2. Keep weight off the injury Place ice packs over the injured area for about 20 minutes at a time, then take them off for 20 minutes before replacing them again.
- 3. Take a break between activity periods. If possible, make sure you’re taking breaks of 5-10 minutes in between each set of exercises or each game if it’s just playing with friends and family.
- 4. Lighten up on the exercise intensity. This can be done by reducing weights or intensity during exercise.