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  • 25405 Hancock Avenue, Suite 217
    Murrieta, CA 92562
  • 951-477-5700

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What to Know About Exercise and Hernias

No matter how old you are, you know about the numerous benefits of regular exercise. Whether at the gym, in a class, at the park, or in your living room, more and more people are devoting themselves to an active and healthy lifestyle. While exercise can help give you the toned and fit body you want, it can also, potentially, lead to health complications, including (and maybe even especially) hernias. Here, we will explore some exercises that can lead to the development of hernias, as well as some of the safest exercises and how you can make sure you don’t develop a hernia from physical activity.

What Exercises Can Potentially Cause a Hernia?

Hernias occur when an organ (usually the intestine) pushes against and/or ruptures your muscle and connective tissue (fascia). Because hernias often develop in the midsection, they are often caused by pressure located in that area. This means that strenuous exercise involving core muscles of your body can make you more susceptible to hernias. Squads, dead-lifts, and abdominal strengthening all put added pressure on your abdomen, and by default, your internal organs. Each of these exercises require you to contract and compress the abdominal wall, and if that wall is weak at all, the intestine can bulge and cause pain in the area.

What Exercises Are Safe?

While you can undergo hernia repair surgery to correct a painful hernia, it is important that you limit the likelihood of developing them. As noted above, exercise-related hernias are most often caused by too much pressure on the abdomen. Because of this, other exercises (including arm- and leg-strengthening exercises) will not cause hernias to develop in the midsection.

Plyometric work and cardio are great exercise options, as they do not pose a risk for the development of hernias. Also, if you are looking to strengthen your core muscles, instead of doing sit ups or crunches, you can try yoga or button pulls. For button pulls, you should lie on your back with your feet planted on the ground and your hands on your hips. Next, you will breathe in deeply through your nose, and as you exhale, you should try to pull your belly button toward your spine. Repeat with as many reps as you can.

Ways to Prevent Hernias From Happening While Exercising

There are several different ways to keep hernias from developing when you exercise. First and foremost, you want to make sure to limit abdominal work as much as possible. Weight-lifting exercises, especially those that involve your core muscles, should be performed sparingly and at a weight that your body can handle. And when you are lifting heavy weights, it is so crucial that you listen to your body–if something causes you pain, then stop immediately. Additionally, regardless of what exercises you are performing at a given time, it is important that you stretch your muscles, both before and after your workout. As long as you pay attention to your body and be as smart as possible with the exercises you do, you can look forward to a healthy body that you can feel proud of.


For more information about hernia repair surgery, please contact Patrick Moore MD, FACS by calling 951-477-5700.