What Increases My Risk For a Sports Hernia?
Athletes have heard about certain injuries for years. They are familiar with the common sprained ankle, occasional broken wrist, and sometimes serious hit on the head and subsequent concussion. However, less often mentioned or known is the sports hernia injury, also known as an inguinal disruption. A sports hernia is a soft tissue injury to the abdominal wall that results in a tear. These rips are often caused by sharp, twisting movements like those that regularly occur in dance, hockey, running, basketball, and countless other sports and activities.
If your physical activities often include abdominal twisting or high-speed direction changes, then you could be at risk for a sports hernia injury. Common causes of the injury include failing to warm up, cool down, stretch, lack of flexibility and a weak core muscle group.
Difficult to diagnose and understand, sports hernias are not often the subject of prevention lessons or the first thing that may come to mind when injured. Common symptoms include aching pain in the lower abdomen, a sharp pain when participating in a physical activity and pain that comes back when resuming activity after a rest period. Those most at risk include dancers, soccer, and hockey players, but almost anyone could suffer a sports hernia, so it’s important to focus on prevention.
Sports hernias occur in the lower abdomen group of muscles, which is sometimes neglected and overlooked. While abs get a lot of attention (think six-pack), there are actually several muscles in this section of the body that work together, including the adductors. An imbalance in the strength of muscle groups can cause an even greater chance for injury than having weak muscles everywhere. Equally strengthening both your adductor and abdominal muscles can lessen the likelihood of an injury.
It’s also important to focus on increasing flexibility in your hips. By making your hip tendons, muscles and ligaments more supple and pliable, twisting and straining puts less stress on your body, reducing the chance of a sports hernia. Having stronger trunk, groin, and thigh muscles can also increase stability and help prevent sports hernia injuries.
While no specific exercise can keep sports hernias completely out of the picture, there are a few that can help. Yoga and Pilates or similar flexibility-focused activities with smooth, controlled movements can increase core strength. Maintaining flexibility in the groin is also crucial. A butterfly stretch can help increase strength in that area.
By knowing to what extent you are at risk for a sports hernia, you can arm yourself with prevention tools and tricks to prevent injuries and can help ensure that you remain active and healthy throughout your lifetime.