What Is a Sports Hernia and How Can You Prevent It?

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With sports intensifying and getting more physical, sports hernias have become a growing concern for athletes. Sports hernias are debilitating and can be a season or career-ending injury. So let’s talk about what a sports hernia is and how you can avoid getting one.
A sports hernia, also known as athletic pubalgia, is a soft tissue injury to a muscle, tendon, or ligament that occurs in the groin area and causes pain. It is more common in males than females and in most cases occurs gradually from repetitive stress (versus from a specific traumatic incident). The “weekend warrior” and even non-athletes can also experience a sports hernia.
Research reveals that one contributing cause is a discrepancy between the upward pulling abdominal muscles and downward pulling inner thigh muscles on the pubis. This imbalance of pulling forces, like a game of tug-of-war, can lead to injuries of either the lower abdominal muscles or inner thigh muscles. Contributing to this are sports-specific activities that involve planting the feet and twisting with maximum exertion or performing explosive movements with either legs. Athletes who play hockey, basketball soccer, football, rugby, and even track athletes are at risk of a sports hernia.
So how can you avoid the risk of developing a sports hernia?
Since we know a sports hernia can happen due to weaknesses in either the abdominals or inner thighs, strengthening these muscles can help to reduce risk of injury.
Try these exercises in this order to strengthen your inner thigh and abdominal muscles to help prevent a sports hernia.

SI Mobilization On a Foam Roller

  • Lie on the end of foam roller so that the tip of the foam roller is flat against the sacrum.
  • Raise both legs up, keeping your knees straight. Make sure the sacrum is flat against the foam roller throughout the activity. Repeat.
  • Arms may be at your sides in order to keep balance on the foam roller.
  • Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
  • This mobilization has the added benefit of strengthening the lower abdominals.

SI mobilization foam roller
SI mobilization foam roller


Inner Thigh Squats

  • Place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Weight should be placed through the heels.
  • As you begin to squat, bring your hips back like you are sitting in a chair that is too far behind you. While squatting, try to move your knees out.
  • Go as low as you can, then push back up through your heels and repeat.
  • Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.

Inner Thigh Squats
Inner Thigh Squats


Sidelying Straight Leg Raise

  • Lie on your side, straighten the bottom leg and cross the top leg over the bottom leg.
  • Lift the bottom leg straight up to the ceiling.
  • Make sure your bottom leg is fully extended at the hip and knee.
  • Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.


Prone Planks

  • Lie on your stomach, placing your elbows under your shoulders. Tighten/engage abs and squeeze glutes.
  • Push up onto your forearms and toes so your body is parallel with the ground, keep elbows under your shoulders, make sure your back is flat.
  • Hold this position as long as you can until you no longer feel it in your abs or you feel it in your back.

Prone plank 1
prone plank 2

Side Planks

  • Lie on your side, place elbow under shoulder, tighten/engage abs, and squeeze glutes.
  • Push up, supporting your weight with your forearm and side of your foot. Your knees should be together and heels stacked. Make sure your back is flat.
  • Shrug shoulders down, tuck your chin, and blow like you are blowing out candles to activate your transverse abdominis. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
side plank


Dead Bug

  • Lie on your back with your hands straight in front of you toward the ceiling.
  • Bring your knees and hips up to 90 degrees and make sure your lower back is flat on the ground.
  • In this position, lower and straighten one leg until it is just above the ground at the same time lower your opposite arm towards the ground above your head.
  • Throughout this movement, maintain tension in your abdominals and keep your low back flat on the ground.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Perform three sets of 10 on each side.

dead bug exercise
dead bug exercise