Sports hernias are fairly common, especially among professional athletes. In the past few weeks of the NFL season there have already been 3 skilled players injured and taken off the field by a hernia, which may be enough to cost your favorite team their shot at the Super Bowl.
What is a Sports Hernia?
There are several different types of hernias, but only one that is most common among athletes. All hernias describe an injury where the abdominal wall has separated, thus allowing inner organs like the intestine to poke through.
Most often, you will be able to notice a hernia since it clearly protrudes from the abdomen. However, sports hernias do not usually form a visible bulge unless they have progressed into becoming another type of hernia known as an inguinal hernia.
The primary problem associated with a sports hernia is pain. This pain will usually become much worse with continued athletic activity, which is why so many football players require surgery to fully treat their sports hernias.
Which NFL Players Are Currently Out Due to a Sports Hernia?
Several noteworthy players for the NFL have already been unable to start or continue in games after suffering a sports hernia. These players include:
- Willie Henry of the Baltimore Ravens: Henry missed the first four games of the season after undergoing hernia repair surgery over this past summer. Henry returned toward the end of October, only to be placed back on injured reserve until further notice.
- Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons: Freeman was placed on injured reserve earlier this season, and has reportedly already completed a surgery to repair his sports hernia. The Falcons have hopes that Freeman will be able to return to play for the team once again by the end of the season.
- Geronimo Allison of the Green Bay Packers: Allison very recently suffered a groin injury that will require surgery to his abdominal wall. His is predicted to miss at least 6 weeks of play time, leaving Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the likely choice to replace Allison in upcoming games.
How Can You Prevent a Sports Hernia?
Hernias are especially prevalent in athletes because many sports involve sudden changes in movement. This quick switch in positions can leave the abdomen and groin very vulnerable to a sports hernia, but there are a few techniques you can implement now to decrease your risk of developing one.
Proper warm-ups are essential to preventing any type of injury. All athletes need to allow time to stretch both before and after intense activity during a practice or a game. These stretches and additional warm up exercises will also help to improve your flexibility and mobility during performance.
You are going to want to focus on a few key muscle groups that will need special attention to prevent a sports hernia. Because they are the most affected by this type of injury, you should identify exercises that strengthen your:
- Anterior core
- Hip Flexors
- Muscles of the anterior and medial hip
Treatment for a Sports Hernia
If the injury is mild, a sports hernia may heal on its own with adequate rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling. The next likely step is to engage in physical therapy to improve the strength and flexibility of your groin and abdominal muscles.
Surgical treatment should be considered if these first attempts to heal a sports hernia are unsuccessful. A severe sports hernia will not heal on its own, and will only worsen the person’s pain as more time elapses without proper treatment.
If you suspect that you may have suffered a sports hernia, or would like to discuss your treatment options with an experienced surgical specialist like Dr. Randy Janczyk or Dr. Anthony Iacco, please schedule a consultation with Michigan Hernia Surgery today!