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Sports Hernia Rehab

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Sports Hernia Rehab
A sports hernia can cause severe abdominal pain. Photo Credit Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images

Sports hernias are not the same as other hernias you may have suffered in the past. A sports hernia typically occurs due to stress provided through physical activity. This type of injury can sideline you for long periods of time. For an elite athlete in a strenuous sport, a sports hernia can endanger his entire career. Recovery and rehabilitation are possible, but they need to be performed with care.

Difference From Other Hernias

More common hernias -- inguinal hernias -- occur in the inguinal canal, a part of your muscles near the abdominals. A sports hernia, on the other hand, is caused by a strain or tear of the soft tissues in your lower abdominal muscles or groin, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This tear can occur in the muscle itself or also in the tendons or ligaments of the abdominals.

Minor Hernia Treatment

Initial treatment for a sports hernia can take place at home and largely relies on the body healing itself. Your rehabilitation process is largely passive. For example, you will need to eliminate physical activity and rest the abdominals for seven to 10 days after the injury occurs. Apply ice several times a day and use compression or a wrap over the abdominals to relieve pain resulting from a bulge. Take anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen to relieve inflammation, swelling and pain. Seek out physical therapy from a licensed physical therapist to use stretching and exercises to heal the hernia. Physical therapy can heal a sports hernia after four to six weeks of regular treatment, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Rehab After Surgery

Surgery may be required to heal a sports hernia if a partial or complete tear develops in your soft tissues. Following this, you will need a short recovery period from the surgery before beginning physical therapy. This is very similar to the physical therapy you should perform for a minor sports hernia, but because of the severity of your injury the therapy may take longer to heal your abdominals.


In some cases the pain of a sports hernia will dissipate after some time spent resting, but this does not always mean the hernia has healed. Pain can reoccur once you resume sports or physical activities. You should keep in mind that unlike with inguinal hernias, sports hernias do not always cause visible bulges underneath the skin. Failure to properly heal a sports hernia can lead to chronic pain that impedes your ability to participate in sports and physical activities.

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