Athletic pubalgia or more commonly known as a sports hernia is a painful soft tissue injury of the lower abdomen or upper groin. Unlike a traditional hernia in which the intestinal wall pushes through the abdominal wall, athletic pubalgia (sports hernia) is a muscle strain.

The tendons that attach the obliques (lower abdomen) to the pubic bone and the thigh muscles to the pubic bone (adductors) are the most commonly strained sites.



Activities which involve high speeds as well as twisting with maximum exertion. Sports such as hockey, squash, football and wrestling commonly cause lower abdominal injuries.


A sports hernia will usually cause severe pain in the groin area at the time of the injury.

The pain typically gets better with rest but worse with activity particularly twisting.

A sports hernia does not cause a visible bulge in the groin.

Without treatment, this injury can result in chronic, disabling pain that prevents you from resuming sports activities.

Road to recovery (short term)

1. Avoid irritating movements. Keep fit by taking part in lower load activities such as walking, cycling, light training.

2. Ice regularly through the first 5 days (at least 3×10 minute / day).

3. Gently massage the sore area. This will decrease sensitivity and can help promote good healing. Do not press so hard that it causes pain.

4. Look for any bulging. Athletic publegia should not cause a true hernia but if it becomes chronic and is not dealt with appropriately one can occur.

5. Once the pain has settled (3 days – 2 weeks depending on severity) begin with gentle core exercises: Bird dog, supermans, yoga poses, squats, lunges.

6. Important: avoid movements and activities that cause pain. With a muscle strain you want to slowly introduce pain free movement and tissue strain that does not cause further irritation.

If you are suffering from this injury it is always good to get  a full assessment to determine why the abdominal wall failed in the first place. A good physio can help identify this and provide you with a plan to prevent reoccurence.
Thanks for reading

Yours in health,

Dave Carter