You need to limit your movements after you’ve had any type of surgery. Therefore, you need to know what exercises to avoid after hernia surgery and what sports hernia stretches you can perform to help accelerate healing.

What is a Sports Hernia?

A sports hernia, despite its name, is not a hernia. This condition has no actual bulge that has gone through the muscles or tissue in your body.

Sports hernia, or athletic pubalgia, as some doctors prefer to call it, is a strain or tear of any soft tissue (muscle, ligament, or tendon) that occurs in the lower abdomen or groin area.

Sports Hernia vs Inguinal Hernia

Sports hernias and inguinal hernias occur in the same area – your lower abdomen. However, an inguinal hernia occurs specifically, within the inguinal canal, above the groin region. Both conditions are due to a weakening of your abdominal wall. An inguinal hernia has a visible bulge but a sports hernia does not. If not treated, however, as time passes, a sports hernia may lead to an inguinal hernia. Your abdominal organs may press against your weakened abdominal tissues and form a visible bulge.

Some inguinal hernias do not have any apparent causes but others may be due to:

  1. Increased pressure within the abdomen
  2. Chronic sneezing or coughing
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Strenuous activities
  5. Straining during urination or bowel movements
  6. A pre-existing weak spot in your abdominal wall

Sports hernias are caused by rapid exercises involving rapid and aggressive changes in direction. This type of injury is common among athletes who play ice hockey, soccer, football, and rugby. It is also common among wrestlers, skiers, and runners.

What are the Symptoms of Sports Hernia?

The symptoms of a sports hernia may include one or more of the following:

  1. Sudden and severe groin pain when the injury occurs.
  2. Groin pain that disappears while resting but returns during sports activity.
  3. Pain in the groin that you can feel more on one side of the groin area only rather than on both sides.
  4. Groin pain that appears when you do twist movements.
  5. Pain that occurs when you cough or sneeze.
  6. Bruising or tenderness in your upper thigh and/or lower abdomen.
  7. Pain in the groin area that increases gradually from intermittent to constant and/or the pain increases to the point that it becomes impossible to play sports.

When is it Necessary to Have Sports Hernia Surgery?

Patients who have severe tears may require surgery. There are two types of surgical procedures that your doctor can perform: 1) traditional open procedure that involves one long incision; or 2) an endoscopic procedure that involves making smaller skin incisions and uses a small camera, an endoscope, to see inside your abdomen. The surgeon will suture the torn soft tissue or will use a combination of anchors, drill holes, skin glue, sutures, and synthetic mesh to reattach ligaments that have fully ruptured.

If the patient’s small inguinal nerve located in the groin has been injured or scarred due to years of physical activity, the surgeon will also sever the nerve during the surgery to relieve the patient’s pain. This procedure is known as an inguinal neurectomy.

How Long Will Sports Hernia Recovery Take?

The average sports hernia recovery time is 6 weeks. However, you need to know what:

Exercises to Avoid After Hernia Surgery

After having surgery, you need to know which hernia exercises to avoid. These are running, jumping, and other high-impact exercises. You can start doing these hernia exercises after surgery, 6 weeks after the actual surgery. 

Most patients are also not allowed to do heavy lifting after hernia surgery. Most patients are asked to avoid lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds for the first two weeks. Other patients who may have more complicated issues may have different lifting restrictions after hernia surgery.                                                                                                                                                  

What Sports Hernia Stretches Can Help with Sports Hernia Recovery?

Sports hernia physical therapy can help with your sports hernia recovery. This program is designed to help relieve pain and restore your mobility after sports hernia surgery. This program will also help improve flexibility and function in the injured area. 

Following are some sports hernia rehab exercises that can help with your recovery:

1) Standing Groin Stretch

Sports Hernia Stretches and Exercises to Avoid After Hernia Surgery: Standing Groin Stretch


  • Stand with your legs wide apart.
  • Start shifting your weight to your left.
  • Bend your knee until it is over your left foot and you will feel the stretch in your right groin.
  • Make sure that your feet are on the ground facing forward as you do the exercise.
  • Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this stretch on the opposite side.
  • Repeat the stretch three more times on each side.

2) Squatting Groin Stretch

Sports Hernia Stretches and Exercises to Avoid After Hernia Surgery: Squatting Groin Stretch

  • Stand with your feet wide apart. Point your toes outwards.
  • Squat down slowly until your bent knees are directly over your ankles, around 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands on your inner thighs and slowly push outward to open your hips.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Relax.
  • Repeat the stretch three more times.

3) Seated Groin Stretch

Sports Hernia Stretches and Exercises to Avoid After Hernia Surgery Seated Groin Stretch

  • Sit on the floor.
  • Bend your knees as you bring the soles of your feet together.
  • Hold your feet with your hands and put your elbows on your knees.
  • Let your knees fall to the ground while you keep your back straight. You can apply gentle pressure on your inner thigh by pressing gently on your knees with your elbows. Do not bounce and do not press down with much force.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. 
  • Release and repeat this stretch three more times.
  • You can increase the stretch by bringing your feet closer to your groin.
  • As you become more flexible, you can do a deeper stretch of your hips and back by leaning forward at your waist. Exhale and lean forward. As you do this, make sure that you keep your back flat and allow your chest to fall as close to the floor as possible.

4) Hip Opener and Groin Stretch

Sports Hernia Stretches and Exercises to Avoid After Hernia Surgery: Hip Opener and Groin Stretch

  • Start with a forward lunge position and drop your left knee to the ground.
  • Place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee as seen in the image above.
  • Gently press your right elbow into your right knee.
  • Twist your torso to your left.
  • Stretch your left arm behind you until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right groin.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Release and repeat this stretch on your other leg.
  • If you have knee pain, you must keep your forward knee over or behind your ankle and not in front of your ankle.

To ensure that your sports hernia recovery is successful, you need to do the correct hernia exercises after surgery. And, to ensure that you are doing everything right, you need to work with a licensed physical therapist.

Vigor Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation is a therapist-owned physical and occupational therapy practice. 

We provide excellent care and patient-centered service to all of our patients. Each of our patient’s needs is unique. Our highly experienced therapists prescribe a personalized program that features the latest, non-surgical, clinically proven techniques and treatments available to deliver optimum results.

If you want to know more about how we can help with your sports hernia recovery or if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.