In this blog post you’re going to learn about the different types of hernias. Plus get some simple action steps that you can can start taking now to help avoid getting a hernia when working out and lifting weights.
First off, a hernia is when some organ material (i.e. a portion of the intestine) protrudes through a weakness in abdominal lining. This weakness is often caused by genetics.
A Congenital Hernia is present at birth, even though it may not be diagnosed for weeks, months or even years later.
Another type of hernia is an Acquired Hernia which develops when the muscles or connective tissue in your abdomen lining are weakened or damaged over the course of your lifetime. Even in hernias that develop much later in life, they may actually be a result of a genetic weakness that was present from birth.
Having a hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous in and of itself. But they will not heal or simply go away on their own. For this reason if you suspect that you may have a hernia, than you need to get it checked out by your doctor to determine the severity of the hernia and whether or not it needs to be fixed.
The only way to repair a hernia is through surgery. Sometimes doctors can repair the abdominal lining by overlapping the existing tissue to fix the hole. Other times they may need to use a mesh material to patch the hole.
Different Types of Hernias.
There are different types of hernias depending on what area of the abdominal lining the intestines break through. The most common type is the Inguinal Hernia or groin hernia because the groin is the weakest part of the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias account for about 80% of all hernias and they happen mostly in men.
Femoral Hernias are rare and tend to occur more in women due to structural differences. Pregnancy related stress and/or obesity can promote weakness in the femoral canal can sometimes result in this type of hernia. They follow the tract below the inguinal ligament through the femoral canal along the pathway where the blood vessels pass from the abdomen to thigh.
Abdominal Hernias occur when a portion of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall. Abdominal hernias may occur in different areas of the abdomen, and depending on where, they may be given different names.
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Getting A Hernia…
As was previously mentioned, most hernias are caused by genetics, usually some structural weakness in the facia lining of the abdominal wall that’s beyond our control. But regardless of genetics there are still some simple preventative measures that you can take to help prevent getting a hernia.
Workout & Lift Weights.
A lot of bodybuilders and weight lifters are afraid of getting a hernia when lifting weights. Which is understandable, but the good news is that when done properly a regular weight lifting routine can actually help prevent hernias from occurring in the first place.
Strength training builds up the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues. Bodybuilders and weight lifters will have a stronger abdominal wall lining compared to sedentary individuals, and thus are less likely to tear that lining when lifting.
A lot of times acquired hernias happen to people who are out of shape and then all of a sudden perform some type of heavy lifting such as; moving furniture, pushing a stuck car, or doing heavy manual labor that their body is not accustomed to performing.
Now even though working out and keeping active can help prevent a hernia, you still need to be smart about it. A lot of the general workout tips for injury prevention will also apply to hernia prevention.
Start Each Workout With A Good Warm Up – I’ve posted a video outlining a complete warm up routine that you can follow before each weight training workout here.
Progress Slow & Steady – Lift within your means and when you increase the weights you are lifting, do so in small increments. You’ll make better progress and reduce your risk of injury by making frequent small increments in weight, rather than trying to make too big of a jump and lifting too much too soon.
Don’t Do Forced Reps – This one will probably hit a nerve with some “hardcore” lifters, but there really isn’t any need to push yourself beyond failure and strain yourself with forced reps. A forced rep is when a lifter reaches failure in a set and then gets his spotter to assist him with performing several additional reps beyond failure. If you want to push yourself safely, simply rack the weight when you reach failure, take a rest break, and then perform an additional set. Doing another set is better than forced reps because the total volume of work performed by your muscles is actually more, and your risk of injury is greatly reduced.
Breathe Into Your Belly – The best way to breathe when lifting weights is abdominal breathing. When you breathe in your should feel your stomach expand, and when you breathe out your stomach should contract. Practice this when you are in the gym. As you lower the weight, breathe in and expand your belly. Then when you lift the weight, blow your air out and let your belly contract. This style of breathing is not only safer, but it will make you feel stronger as well because it helps to stabilize your torso when lifting.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight.
Another big risk factor for hernias is being overweight. Carrying a lot of extra weight around the stomach will stretch and weaken the abdominal lining and increase your risk of having a hernia. This is another plus for bodybuilders and athletes because they are more likely to be leaner and maintain a healthy body weight compared to sedentary individuals.
I’m pretty sure everyone who is reading this article right now knows that smoking is unhealthy. So I’m not going to bore you with an anti-smoking pitch. But you probably didn’t know that smoking can increase your risk of getting a hernia. Smoking loads your body with dangerous toxins that adversely effect the body’s ability to produce enzymes which promote cell creation and growth. This can weaken the abdominal lining. In addition to that, heavy coughing (which is common among smokers) can cause the weakened abdominal lining to tear and cause a hernia.
Move Your Bowels.
If you are constipated and have to strain in order to have a bowel movement this is putting a lot of pressure on the muscles and connective tissue in your abdomen. This could result in tearing the abdominal lining. To help keep yourself regular make sure to eat a healthy diet that is high in natural unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
You should also drink lots of water (about 1 gallon per day for bodybuilders and athletes). In addition to keeping you hydrated, water flushes toxins out of your body and it also flushes the bowels so that it’s easier to have a poop. Ideally you should have a poop at least once or twice per day. If you are not doing a #2 everyday, than you are constipated and should change your dietary habits and check with your doctor.
The bottom line, you don’t need to worry about your bodybuilding workouts causing a hernia, because when following a healthy bodybuilding lifestyle of proper diet and exercise can actually help prevent you from getting a hernia in the first place.
However, if you do suspect that you may have a hernia (any strange lumps or bumps protruding from your abdominal or groin) than you should get them checked out by your doctor as soon as possible, even if there is no pain or discomfort. You are much better off getting a hernia fixed sooner when it’s still small, rather than waiting and risk having the abdominal lining tear even more and creating a bigger hernia.
Remember, hernias will NOT heal and go away on their own. The only way to treat them is through surgery, and if you take action soon enough it’s very often only a small day surgery procedure with a relatively short recovery time.
If you have any additional questions or feedback about hernias or any of the content covered here, please feel free to post your comments below.
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