Can You Exercise If You Have Inguinal Hernia

Exercise is a good way to improve your overall health and the strength of your abdominal muscles. But if you have inguinal hernia – a bulge in which the abdominal fatty tissues protrude through a hole or a weak spot in the abdominal wall fascia (specifically in the groin area) – is it still OK to exercise?

You can exercise with inguinal hernia, but …

Inguinal hernias are often thought to result from ageing, though some can also occur suddenly (after pushing or carrying heavy loads for example). This is because the abdominal wall fascia can get weaker as we age.

Surgery is the only way to repair the problem since the hole in the abdominal wall fascia doesn’t repair itself. Non-surgical medications are also available to help cope with, but they don’t repair the hole. They are usually used to help relieve the symptoms or prevent the problem from worsening.

Though surgery can fix the problem and it often works successfully, it’s not without risks. In general, you can delay your surgery as long as your hernia is not serious or doesn’t pose any serious risks. So surgery is not always necessary – for more guidance to understand between delaying (watchful-waiting approach) and taking surgery early, see here!

Exercise may also help manage your inguinal hernia and its symptoms. This is especially recommended if you’re overweight or obese.

Being obese could be counterproductive for the prognosis of your hernia. More pounds of excess weight you gain will drive more pressure in your abdominal cavity. As a result there will be more fatty tissues that protrude through the hole, leading to a bigger lump. You need to keep your weight off, not only to help manage your hernia symptoms, but also to make surgical hernia repair easier.

But it’s important to make sure that your workouts are safe for your hernia. Because there are some types of exercise that could be counterproductive and worsen the problem!

What to Avoid! What to Do?
Avoid ones that involve closing off the throat, excessive straining, and put more pressure on your abdomen. If necessary, work with your doctor or professional trainer to make sure you exercise safely. You may need to have a few adjustments for your existing workout by reducing duration, impact, or intensity. Engage in moderate physical activities that don’t cause undue stress on the abdominal cavity.
For examples; heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, ballistic activities (punching and kicking), crunches, sit-ups, strenuous activities, and competitive sports. They can increase the size of your inguinal hernia. For examples; a walking program, swimming, and static cycling.
Furthermore these exercises wouldn’t effectively help lose your weight, because they don’t efficiently burn your calories. These moderate, aerobic-type exercises don’t involve closing throat with effort and will help lose your weight efficiently.

A moderate walking program can help improve your core strength, which is also low impact and a good way to reduce the risk of strain on the abs. Swimming and water exercise are good idea since water surrounding you can help support and control your hernia! Static cycling with appropriate sitting angle will support your core muscles and prevent undue abdominal straining.

What else?

Inguinal hernia could be fatal if it becomes trapped (incarcerated), a condition when the bulge doesn’t respond with manual pressure. Incarcerated hernia can lead to strangulation and serious internal infection (sepsis).

So it’s important to keep monitoring the problem, even though you have the mild one and decide to go on wait-&-see approach. Non-surgical medications, including a few changes in lifestyles can help prevent your hernia from worsening, though they don’t repair the hole. For more information about what NOT to do with hernia, see this post!