Does Working Out Cause Hernias?

If you’re considering starting a workout routine, you may be wondering if there’s a risk of developing a hernia. Here’s what you need to know.


Doing physical activity can add discipline to your life and help keep you in shape. However, some people wonder if lifting weights or engaging in other workouts might put them at risk for developing a hernia. So just what is a hernia and what is the risk of working out with this medical condition?

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue is pushed through an opening or weakened portion of muscle. This causes a bulge, called the “hernia,” which will appear in the affected area. Common types of hernias can occur in the abdomen, belly button, groin, and upper thigh area. Hernias are often caused by strain or pressure put on the weakened muscles surrounding these areas and can be due to childbirth, heavy lifting and straining during physical activity such as sports or weightlifting. To diagnose a hernia your doctor will likely do a physical exam and imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan. If you have any symptoms that may suggest a hernia it is important to visit your doctor to understand what type of diagnosis you should seek to confirm it is indeed a hernia.

What is a Hernia?

A hernia is a condition where an internal organ or tissue pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscles. Hernias commonly occur in the abdomen, but they can also occur in other parts of the body. It is important to understand the symptoms and causes of hernia in order to be able to identify and treat it. In this article, we will look at the various types of hernias and whether or not working out can cause hernias.

Types of Hernias

Hernias are a common medical condition that occur when an organ or fatty tissue pushes through a weak area in the wall of muscle or surrounding tissue. Hernias can develop in different areas and types, including abdominal, inguinal (inner groin), femoral (outer groin) and umbilical (belly button). In some cases, hernias may be present at birth; other cases may occur due to straining from heavy lifting, poor lifestyle choices, persistent coughing or pregnancy.

There are four main types of hernias:
-Incisional hernia: This occurs due to complications from surgery. Weakness of the abdominal muscles allows abdominal contents to push through the scar from past surgery.
-Inguinal hernia: This is the most common type of hernia and is located in the inner groin at the level of the pubic bone. Air or fat can enter this area along with a portion of intestine resulting in noticeable bulge on one side.
-Femoral hernia: Femoral hernias are less common than inguinal hernias and tend to appear as a lump near the thigh where it meets the abdomen. They can be painful when coughing or straining against it.
-Umbilical hernia: An umbilical hernia occurs when tissue bulges through an opening in a baby’s belly button area but typically will most often heal on its own as your child grows older and their tissues become stronger with age. In rare cases, adults may also experience this type of defect because their abdominal muscles have weakened over time. The defect tends to cause pain or discomfort when pushing against it but generally does not require immediate medical attention like other types of Hernia’s do

Causes of Hernias

Hernias can happen for a variety of reasons, but exercise does not cause them alone. Hernias can be caused by a combination of factors such as age, activity levels, genetics, and existing medical conditions. It’s important to understand the factors that can lead to hernias in order to prevent them. Let’s explore some of the common causes of hernias.


Hernias are formed due to a combination of factors, the most common being an anatomical defect caused by genetics. A congenital hernia is one that is present at birth. This type of hernia develops when a baby’s abdominal wall fails to form correctly during pregnancy, leaving a weak spot or small hole in the muscle that allows tissue or organs to protrude through. Hernias can also be caused by injury or strain, resulting from overexertion during physical activities such as lifting weights or strenuous labor that causes excessive pressure on the abdomen. In addition, obesity and advancing age can contribute to the formation of hernias, as these two factors reduce muscle tone in the abdominal wall and weaken its structural integrity.

Lifting Heavy Objects

The most common cause of hernias is lifting heavy objects. The force applied to the abdominal wall during certain types of strain and lifting can cause a tear in the abdominal muscles, which leads to the hernia. People with occupations that require them to lift heavy objects are more prone to hernia development than those who do not exert physical force or stress on their bodies on a regular basis. This type of strain can also affect athletes and weightlifters who use improper technique while they are exercising, as well as individuals who engage in activities such as gardening, carrying children and even putting heavier objects into overhead storage shelves. Straining of any kind is a big risk factor for potential hernia formation.

Weak Core Muscles

Hernias are usually caused by a combination of factors, including structural weaknesses in abdomen wall muscles and overstretching or straining of abdominal wall muscles during physical activities. Weak core muscle strength can be caused by a number of different things, including prior injury, poor posture habits, poor exercise form while performing abdominal and core exercises, lack of strength training, excessive weight gain and even genetics.

Weak core muscles can weaken the body’s natural support system for the abdominal wall and can lead to strain on these muscles during strenuous physical activities like lifting, carrying or pushing heavy objects. The excessive internal pressure can lead to tears or thinning in the abdominal wall which can cause hernias. In addition to these physical activities that require exertion of force on the abdominal wall, even simple movements such as coughing or sneezing may cause hernias if weak core muscle strength is present.

It is important to maintain strong core muscles in order to reduce your risk for developing hernias and other issues related to weakened abdominals from lifestyle activities like coughing or bending over while doing routine housework. One way to prevent hernias due to weak abdominal musculature is through performing regular structured core strengthening exercises with emphasis on maintaining proper form when exercising. This will ensure that the deep muscles of your abdomen (transverse abdominis) are working correctly and are strong enough to resist potential tears in the muscle fascia due to sudden strain associated with physical labor and other areas of daily life activity.

Straining During Exercise

The tension from straining during exercise can be a contributing factor to hernia development. Any exercise that puts strain on your abdominal muscles, such as doing sit-ups, lifting heavy weights, running or other activities such as golfing and tennis can cause a hernia. Some individuals may also experience minor tearing in the tissue of the stomach wall since it is not designed for pulling forces with the direction taken by these activities and hernias can develop over time.

There are several types of exercises which should be avoided if at risk of developing a hernia. Curls and crunches involve strain on the lower abdominal and pelvic muscles and put pressure on weak spots or stretched areas, increasing your chances of developing a hernia even further. Lower back extension should be approached carefully; it is best to avoid twisting around while laying with your back on the ground as this will involve unnecessary strain on abdominal muscles even though your back is supported. Stretches that don’t require straining are generally preferable such as light jogging or walking around blocks in order to remain active without putting yourself at risk for any further complications from weak abdominal muscles.

Symptoms of a Hernia

Hernias occur when a weakness or tear in the abdominal muscle wall allows a section of internal tissue or intestine to protrude through. Hernias are most often noticed in infants, but adults can develop a hernia as well. Symptoms of an adult hernia may include a visible swelling, feeling of fullness or discomfort in the abdominal region that worsens with exercise, coughing or straining. In some cases, pain from the area radiating to the shoulders and chest may occur.

If left untreated for an extended period, more severe symptoms and complications can arise such as difficulty having bowel movements and nausea. It is important to consult a doctor immediately if any suspicious signs appear, as hernias cannot heal on their own. Treatment can range from medications to minimally invasive surgery depending on severity of the hernia and individual preference.

Diagnosis of a Hernia

When a doctor suspects there is a hernia, several examinations are performed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. An evaluation is conducted to assess the type of hernia, size and location. The patient may also undergo imaging tests, such as an X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

During a physical examination, your doctor will push gently on the hernia area while you’re standing and feeling discomfort when coughing or sneezing can also be warning signs of a hernia. Additionally, supporting the affected area with one hand while coughing helps confirm that it’s a hernia.

When certain elements suggest that it’s imprudent or impractical to continue treatment in its conservative form, then surgical repair may be recommended to correct the problem. If surgery is necessary for hernias caused by working out, then recovery will vary depending on the patient’s overall health and physical activity level prior to the diagnosis.

Treatment of a Hernia

Once a hernia has developed, treatment may be necessary depending on the severity and extent of the hernia. Treatment for a hernia typically involves either conservative management with lifestyle modifications and pain relief or surgical repair.

Conservative management may include the use of medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage discomfort or pain caused by the hernia. Other lifestyle modifications including avoiding strenuous activity or heavy lifting can also be helpful in managing symptoms and preventing possible complications of a hernia, such as increased pain, swelling and strangulation of the herniated tissue. If these measures are not sufficient in relieving symptoms, surgery may be recommended to repair the weakened muscles and tissue that comprise a hernia before it has time to worsen further.

Surgical repair typically involves stitching together weakened muscles, fascia or other tissues to restore strength to the affected area and prevent future occurrences of hernias. Depending on the type and size of a patient’s hernia, a wide range of surgical options exist ranging from minimally-invasive laparoscopic procedures using small incisions to traditional open surgeries which involve larger incisions for visibility in more complex cases. A doctor should work with each patient individually to determine which procedure is best suited for their particular case based on their age, health status, desired outcome and potential risks associated with each type procedure.

Prevention of a Hernia

If you are someone that exercises regularly, or even just starting out, there are some tips to help you reduce the risk of developing a hernia. Unfortunately, not all hernias can be prevented, some are pre-existing, but there are some steps that you can take to decrease the likelihood of developing a hernia. Let’s discuss the basics of hernia prevention, as well as give you some tips for reducing your risk.

Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting heavy objects without proper technique is a common cause of hernias. It’s important to be aware of your posture when lifting and always lift with your legs. This prevents you from using your upper body too much, which puts unnecessary strain on the muscles and can lead to hernia formation.

Before lifting, it’s important to know how much weight you can handle safely. Start by testing out the weight before lifting it; if you’re feeling any pain, try again with a lighter load or seek help from someone who has experience lifting heavy objects safely. To lift an object off the ground or another surface, crouch down and keep your back straight while keeping the item you are carrying close to your body. As you stand, remember to use your legs instead of arching your back or round-shouldering; both of these will increase your risk of developing a hernia.

In addition to proper lifting techniques, safety equipment should also be used whenever appropriate. Back braces are available that provide extra support for heavy lifting; some have built-in lumbar pads for extra cushioning around sensitive areas like the abdomen or lower back where hernias can often form.

Strengthening Core Muscles

Core muscles play a key role in providing stability and flexibility throughout the body, especially areas with a history of hernia. Strengthening core muscles helps alleviate pain and discomfort caused by hernias and can also help prevent them from occurring. To help protect yourself from developing a hernia, consider adding exercises that focus on strengthening the core abdominal muscles to your weekly routine.

The most effective exercises for toning and strengthening the inner abdominal muscles are planks, side planks, crunches, mountain climbers, bicycle crunches and sit-ups. Through regular exercise you can effectively strengthen your core while also monitoring any changes or pains that could indicate a risk of hernia. In addition to bodyweight exercises, you may also want to incorporate resistance bands or invested equipment like kettlebells into your routine since they offer variable levels of intensity.

It is important to note that when exercising any muscle group, including those in the abdomen area, proper technique is essential for avoiding injuries and muscle tears that could lead to developing a hernia. Stretching properly before every physical activity is an important part of preventing injuries related to exercise as well as hernias.

Wearing a Support Belt

Using a support belt is a common form of preventive action taken to avoid or reduce the risk of developing a hernia. A hernia belt, also known as an abdominal binder, is designed to provide support to the muscles and tissues that surround the abdomen and groin area. By compressing these areas and providing an extra layer of protection, an abdominal binder can reduce the pressure that is put on the tissues, helping to minimize their likelihood of rupture. Wearing a hernia belt has been shown to reduce pain and discomfort caused by weak muscles or ligaments, helping understand how wearing one can also help prevent further enlargement or weakening of these structures.

Though no hernia-prevention measure can completely eliminate the risk, wearing a support belt is certainly one way to reduce it. It should be noted, however, that wearing these devices alone may not be enough – proper nutrition and exercise are still highly important in maintaining strong muscles that are less susceptible to injury. It’s best to consult with your doctor if you think you may be at risk for developing a hernia so they can recommend the best course of action for reducing your personal chances of experiencing this condition.


Overall, there is no straightforward answer as to whether or not working out can cause hernias. While certain activities may increase the risk of developing a hernia, there are many other factors that can also contribute. Proper lifting technique and core strength can go a long way in reducing the risk of having a hernia during physical activity. Additionally, it is important to identify any signs of injury or pain and seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further complications. In general, exercising in moderation and following a balanced training program is recommended for both experienced athletes and those just starting out in order to avoid the potential risks associated with strenuous physical activity.

Checkout this video:

Similar Posts