lifting heavy weights

Hernias are a common problem that can have multiple causes. Essentially, a hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or the wall of surrounding tissue.

This means, activities like heavy lifting do have the potential to cause a hernia to occur. So, here, we’ll explore how exercise and heavy lifting can trigger a hernia, and what to do if you think you have one.

Can exercise and heavy lifting cause a hernia?

The relationship between heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and hernia development is complex. While exercise itself is not a direct cause of hernias, lifting heavy weights or engaging in high-intensity workouts can exacerbate pre-existing weak spots in the abdominal wall or groin area. This is particularly true if proper lifting techniques are not followed or if you partake in excessive training without adequate rest.

Prevention is key when it comes to exercise-related hernias. Proper technique, especially during weightlifting, is crucial. This includes lifting with the legs rather than the back, avoiding twisting motions while lifting, and ensuring that you breathe correctly during exercises.

Gradually increasing the intensity of workouts and allowing plenty of time for rest and recovery can also help in minimising the risk. Incorporating exercises that strengthen the core can support the surrounding muscles and reduce the likelihood of developing a hernia.

Is it safe to exercise when you have a hernia?

If you have a hernia, it’s important to seek medical advice before carrying out any type of exercise. While light exercise may be safe and can even help strengthen the muscles around the hernia, heavy lifting or high-impact workouts can aggravate the condition.

Lifting heavy weights with a hernia can increase the pressure on the affected area, causing it to enlarge or become more painful. This can lead to complications such as incarceration or strangulation of the hernia, where the protruded tissue becomes trapped, and its blood supply is cut off. This is a serious complication that requires emergency surgery.

Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or gentle yoga can often be suitable alternatives.

What should I do if I develop a hernia?

Treatment for a hernia typically depends on its size, severity, and the symptoms it presents. In some cases, especially if the hernia is small and not causing discomfort, monitoring it may be sufficient. However, for larger or painful hernias, surgical intervention is often required to repair the weakened area.

Surgery for hernias has become increasingly efficient and often involves reinforcing the affected area with mesh to prevent recurrence. Recovery times can vary, but following post-operative instructions is crucial for a successful outcome. This includes sticking to lifting restrictions, engaging in recommended exercises to strengthen the area, and attending follow-up appointments.

It’s important to address a hernia quickly to avoid complications and safely return to your normal activities, including exercise and weightlifting.

Book a consultation with leading hernia repair surgeon, Mr Michael Stellakis to discuss your options.