Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

Understand what a sports hernia is and learn about rehab after surgery to repair one.

Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, signed his first pro contract on June 6. Six days later, he had a sports hernia surgery.

Although it looks like Clowney won't miss any of the season, no surgery is minor, because complications can always arise. This particular injury is becoming increasingly common in sports, especially among football players. It is a significant injury, but having surgery now rather than trying to battle through the injury and possibly miss more time, appears to be the right decision for Clowney.

Watch Clowney train for his rookie season.

What is a sports hernia?

Sports hernias are overuse injuries. Typically, there is a tear in the muscle that is deep enough to allow intestinal tissue to protrude through and cause a deformity. It can occur in the abdominal wall or in the lower pelvic area, when the abdominal and groin muscles pull in oppostie directions. It is a soft-tissue injury that occurs from a sudden twist under resistance, like during a tackle in football.


A Philadelphia surgeon, William Myers, MD, peformed Clowney's successful surgery. Myers has treated several NFL players with this injury.

RELATED: The Workout Behind Jadeveon Clowney's Freakish 40 Time

The surgery is performed to stabilize the soft tissue at the tendinous junction in the lower abdominal area. It begins with a 2-inch-long incision. A mesh is placed over the repaired area to further strengthen it and prevent re-injury. To prevent another possible complication, a superficial nerve that provides sensation to a small area in the groin is clipped to limit the risk of the mesh pinching the nerve and thus mimicking re-injury.

The rehab process can begin soon after surgery, as pain resolves itself quickly. If pain persists, therapy may include dry needling either the area repaired or the adductor muscles. Plasma-rich protein injections are an option to speed the healing process.

After surgery, rest for up to a week followed by treadmill walking for another week. After that, exercise becomes more vigorous.

Rehab Exercises

Restoration of Hip Mobility

  • Foam rolling hip flexors, groin muscles and IT bands
  • Stretching of the hips, hamstrings and groin
  • Prone Press-Up/Cobra Stretch (gently stretches repaired area)
  • Thoracic Rotation in Quadruped
  • Lateral Lunge
  • Scorpion Stretch

RELATED: Improve Flexibility With Four Foam Rolling Exercises

Restoration of the Core Musculature

  • Half-Kneeling Land Mines
  • Prone Single-Arm, Single-Leg Raises, and Supermans
  • Plank Variations
  • Reverse Crunches, Floor Wipers and Hanging Leg Raises

Strength and Speed

After four weeks, a high-level athlete like Clowney must focus on strength. This will mean resuming the "Big Three" lifts: Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. From there he can begin Olympic lifting, plyometrics and sprinting to regain his speed.

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