A sports hernia is a terrible groin injury notorious for affecting soccer and football players. For this reason, it has even been nicknamed “footballer’s groin.”

According to an ongoing study of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team that is being conducted by a team at the Medical Affairs Institute of Sports Sciences, over a third of the players have had the injury. Furthermore, 12.5% of them have been diagnosed with the injury on both sides of their body.

The message is clear: soccer athletes are highly susceptible to developing the injury.

The act of kicking a soccer ball is actually the culprit behind the problem. Kicking involves hip adduction as well as flexion. Over time, the large adductor muscles of the inner thigh become strong from this repetitive motion—but the abdominal muscles do not.

As this muscular imbalance continues to grow, more and more pressure is placed on the deep abdominal wall. Attaching deep in the groin, your inguinal canal becomes over-stressed. Tears in the area almost always result.

Luckily though, by performing just two exercises the chance for getting the injury drops significantly.

The first is abdominal vacuums. This exercise is performed by exhaling all air and pulling in the stomach. Visualize touching your bellybutton to your spine. Hold and squeeze for 1-2 seconds before inhaling. Aim to complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Abdominal vacuums exercise.
Abdominal Vacuums

The movement second is not a traditional exercise, but an athletic drill: slide board training. The slide board is an excellent tool in the prevention of the injury because it can effectively target the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of soft tissues that connect deep in your groin to either side of your pelvis. When this area becomes weak, the chance for a tear to happen increases dramatically.

If you don’t have access to a slide board, find a smooth surface that you can glide on while in your socks or standing on a towel. The movement is very simple—use your legs to push yourself laterally across the floor. This will develop strength and stability in your pelvic floor which is absolutely crucial for soccer players.

man performs slide board training drill
Slide board drill.

Playing soccer puts you at a large risk for developing terrible groin pain, especially if you are a competitive athlete. However, by performing these two exercises you can make sure groin pain stays away for good.