Ask the expert


Would weightlifting make my hernia worse?

I have a small (one side only) inguinal hernia. How long can I leave it untreated without becoming an issue? Would lifting weights at the gym make it worse?

2 September 2019

Inguinal hernias are fairly common in men and they can be caused by a loss of tone, weakening or a tear to an area of the abdominal muscle wall, in this case the inguinal canal, this allows abdominal contents to escape or protrude outside of the muscle wall area which has weakened. Very often this can be seen or felt as a bulge in the area in addition to experiencing some discomfort.

Most hernias will progress as time goes on but this can be over a period of several years, it is not possible to place a time scale on how quickly this may happen unfortunately as each individual will vary. Watchful waiting is commonly employed for hernias that are small and causing minimal symptoms with surgery only following if symptoms increase and/or there is a risk of a portion of intestine becoming compromised, this is commonly referred to as strangulation.

Due to the nature of a hernia and the cause, heavy lifting should be avoided wherever possible, weightlifting could potentially cause further herniation and deterioration of your condition so it would be better not to weight lift whilst you have the hernia. You may like to investigate some abdominal strengthening exercises which could both help support the area and reduce the risk of further or worsening herniation. A physiotherapist may be useful for guiding you through some exercises that may help. Other advice would be to maintain a healthy weight and to avoid straining when defeacating and of course to avoid heavy lifting.

I do hope this information will be of help, best of luck and thank you once again for contacting us.

Answered by Health at Hand team. 

You may also be interested in...

Inguinal hernia - NHS factsheet

Training with weights - AXA Health

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