Sports Hernia from Squats: The Truth

Sports Hernia Physical Therapy | Written by Jon Chambers | Updated on 29 December 2021

Squatting 500 pounds on an ohio rogue bar with a sports hernia

Squatting can be an amazing movement to build strength, size, mobility, and functionality—but it can also lead to terrible injuries if form is left unchecked.

But how do they tie in specifically to a sports hernia (also known as Gilmore’s groin or a sportsman’s hernia)?

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When you are performing the squat, your body relies heavily on your quads of course, but also on your posterior chain: glutes, abs, adductors, abductors, and many other smaller connecting muscles.

If performed incorrectly, squats can lead to uneven and dysfunctional development in your muscles and also daily movement patterns. And then when you try to perform an athletic or explosive movement, the injury comes as a result.

Here are some of the most common symptoms experienced:

  • Tenderness in and around the pubic region
  • Discomfort and pain when getting out of bed, standing up, or walking
  • Sharp pain that increases with more movement (jogging, sprinting, etc.)
  • Dull, persistent pain throughout the entire day
  • Increased pain when abdominals are flexed

Did the squats actually lead you to develop this injury?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is yes.

No, it was not this specific exercise that caused you to become injured (if you aren’t sure on how to diagnose it properly, read this). However, over months or years your body developed uneven muscles and poor form.

In the case of my injury personally, my poor squatting mechanics caused me to become extremely tight and inhibited in my glutes and hip flexors, while becoming weak and un-engaged in my abdominals.

Squatting 500 pounds on an ohio rogue bar with a sports hernia

Squatting 500 pounds roughly 2 years after diagnosing and fixing my sports hernia.

And when I went for an above-average sprinting session, I heard the distinct “pop” and tear sound before limping back to my apartment and slowly figuring out I was cursed by the ominous sports hernia injury.

In turn, this poor form and the underlying muscular asymmetries accompanying it lead to even worse form and dysfunctional muscular development. This vicious negative cycle is why most people who get this injury have an extremely difficult time reversing the timeline and solving their pain.

What is the answer, then, to heal and be able to squat and exercise freely again?

A systematic approach that aims to solve the actual cause of the pain without simply masking the symptoms like most solutions aim to do. This involves a very gradual build-up of exercises that strengthen the surrounding areas to, in turn, take off pressure to allow the injury site to finally begin healing.

Before going any further, it is important to note that it is possible to heal fully without the use of surgery. However, there are a handful of factors that will determine if it is a possible solution for you personally. To learn about the 1 major problem, read this.

Once you have a better grasp of if healing without going under the knife will be possible for you, it is time to immediately begin the rehab process. The first 2 weeks are very simple and involve walking and using the elliptical machine to begin the process of remodeling your movement patterns.

After that, exercises are added in week 3 to begin strengthening and rebuilding—this is the missing link that is so commonly left out of a successful rehab protocol. Most doctors simply prescribe the traditional RICE approach: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

But as anyone who has dealt with this terrible injury will know, that doesn’t work and actually makes things worse in the case of this complex sports-related injury.

Strengthening Phase 1 of the program actually utilizes bodyweight squats as part of the recovery process. Additionally, in the second strengthening phase, you will complete weighted squats. The moral of the story here is, using weighted squats is a great thing even in the case of a sports hernia—as long as you are doing them correctly and engaging the proper muscles.

Spots Hernia from Squatting?

By now you know what the symptoms are, how the injury developed in the first place, and how squatting ties in specifically. For the next steps, it is extremely important that you begin immediately so you have a chance of healing fully. As shown by studies discussed in our other articles, if you wait longer and longer to begin the rehab program, your chance of healing without surgery decreases exponentially–so start yesterday!

The 8,000-word ultimate rehab program is the biggest and most in-depth resource on the internet for this injury and will take you through every single day of the extensive 10-week process. Best of all, it is free and always will be.

About the Author

Squatting 500 pounds on an ohio rogue bar with a sports hernia

Jon Chambers

Jon Chambers is a powerlifter, strength coach, sports hernia expert, and writer involved in the strength training community for almost a decade on a mission to create the best strength and fitness guides on the web.