How to Prevent Sports Hernias. WARNING: May Be Illegal in 19 States
Sports hernias seem to be rising at an epidemic rate as of late in sports such as hockey and soccer. Mike Boyle wrote a fantastic article titled Understanding Sports Hernias for strengthcoach.com not too long ago, and I wanted to share a small snidbit (yes I said snidbit) here with you:
In truth a number of different conditions fall under the umbrella of sports hernia. However, the most interesting thing about the sports hernia is that it almost always seems to begin as groin pain, not as abdominal pain. Most sports hernia sufferers, when interviewed or evaluated, will describe a groin injury that gradually progressed into a painful lower abdomen. This often-overlooked fact may be the real key to solving or understanding the problem. Sports hernias are not traumatic. There is no singular incident but rather a gradual progression. What begins as a groin pain progresses into an abdominal pain. So in reality, the “sports hernia” may be secondary injury. In fact sports hernias may be the reaction of the abdominal muscles to a groin injury or more specifically the reaction of the abdominal muscles to a change in the mechanics of the hip joint.
As you can see from above, the adductor (or groin) group is a fairly dense area of muscle consisting of five muscles (the gracilis isn’t labeled). In particular, and as Boyle notes in his article, the adductor brevis and pectineus both aid in adduction as well as break hip flexion during sprinting. As an example, think about what hockey and soccer both involve a lot of? Hint: adduction/flexion.
Unfortunately, many trainers and therapists try to treat sports hernias by just solely focusing on strengthening adduction while stretching the hip flexors. This would be analogous to trying to fix a leak in your ceiling by putting a band aid over the actual leak, while completely neglecting the fact that the leak is coming from somewhere else.
So after watching that video either one of two things happened:
1. You’re completely grossed out.
2. Your computer screen is pregnant.
Again, abdominal pain in the form of a sports hernia may in fact be a secondary injury due to scar tissue build up in the adductors. As such, it’s important to try to improve the soft tissue quality in that area. One of the best ways is to foam roll your adductors as shown above (also known as the testicle tickler. Sorry I couldn’t resist). It won’t feel good, but it will go a long way in terms of preventing many common dysfunctions that manifest themselves in the hip/groin complex.