Sports Hernia Causes and Risk Factors

The main cause of sports hernia (athletic pubalgia) is the hard and sudden planting of the feet and/or twisting of the body at an intense level, usually during sports. Kicking a soccer ball, shooting a hockey puck, or turning to receive a lacrosse ball are all examples of sports plays that can cause sports hernia.

See Athletic Groin Injury Causes and Risk Factors


Specific causes and risks for sustaining a sports hernia injury include, but are not limited to:

  • Players of vigorous sports that involve intense running, jumping, cutting/slicing, or twisting movements are most at risk for a sports hernia. For example, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, football), and rugby.1
  • Professional athletes and/or any other athlete that plays a sport at an elite level, such as Division I college players or members of top traveling high-school leagues, are at a much higher risk of developing sports hernia than the general athlete population.
  • Most sports hernia patients are male. The condition is rare among female athletes.
  • Some experts believe having core muscles that are considerably weaker in comparison to the upper thigh muscles is a risk factor for sports hernia, because it increases damaging torque potential on the torso during sudden movements or stops.
  • Sometimes the cause of sports hernia is unknown, and/or develops gradually over a long period of time instead of being triggered by a single traumatic event.2

Any athlete with one or more of the above risk factors who is experiencing groin pain is advised to seek treatment from a medical professional trained in sports medicine to diagnose—or rule out—possible sports hernia.