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Understanding and Dealing with Sports Hernias

Physical Therapy As An Effective Treatment For Sports Hernias

With over twenty percent of individuals in the US exercising every day, there is potential for a lot of fitness-related injuries. Although some injuries are commonly known and the treatment understood, what about the lesser known sports hernias and the treatment required to heal them? Instead of reaching for the painkillers to overcome pain or opting for last resort surgery, perhaps it is worth considering physical therapy as a course of treatment as you’ll be amazed how effective it can be.

What is a sports hernia?

A sports hernia is different from a normal inguinal hernia, which produces an internal lump which protrudes and can be felt. Whereas inguinal hernias occur mainly in men, femoral hernias affect women more than men and occur when part of the bowel or fatty tissue pokes into the groin or inner thigh. However, a sport hernia is an injury to the soft tissues and deep muscles of the groin and inner abdominal wall and unlike other types of hernia, a sports hernia does not create a visible lump or bulge. It may cause groin pain at the time of the injury which fades during rest but returns during exercise.

How you can manage the recovery

Sports hernia referrals are more common for menwith up to 97% of referrals, but women can still suffer from them but may go undiagnosed. If you think you have a sports hernia, then make sure to get lots of rest. After 7-10 days of rest the pain has not eased then it’s time to get some help. But don’t rush to have surgery at this stage as sports hernias can often be successfully treated with physical therapy, with surgery as a last resort. Physical therapy needs time to be effective and ideally, a period of at least three months to target pelvic stability and core strength is necessary. For the best chance of success, you need to be patient with therapy and ensure you practice the exercises you are given. Surgery can be considered if physical therapy is not effective, but careful consideration should be given to which option is most appropriate. Also be aware of a long recovery period. 

How to prevent a sports hernia

There is no one way to prevent a sports hernia, as with all exercise it is important to incorporate some basic rules into your fitness routine. Ensure that you incorporate a proper warm up into your run as cold muscles are more likely to injure than if you have warmed up sufficiently. Fully stretch your muscles, paying attention to quadriceps, groin, calf, and hamstrings. Ensure that you stretch too and focus especially on your hip adductors which will loosen groin muscles. 

Sports hernias can, and do, occur and although they are more common in males, women can still suffer. It’s important to follow a thorough warm-up and stretching routine before exercise to reduce the risk of injury. If you experience pain and suspect a sports hernia then rest and test the pain after at least a week. If the pain continues then it’s best to head straight for physical therapy to repair the injury.

-Guest Post by Jackie Thomas

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