Can You Exercise with an Umbilical Hernia?

A hernia occurs when a structure or organ protrudes through a weak area of muscle. With an umbilical hernia, a part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscles, near the belly button. The condition is most common in infants, and umbilical hernias tend to go away within the first year, according to the Mayo Clinic. In adults factors that cause increased abdominal pressure, such as obesity, heavy lifting and pregnancy can all cause an umbilical hernia. Exercise may aggravate an umbilical hernia and you should take certain precautions to protect yourself. Consult your physician before exercising with a hernia.

A woman is jogging on the treadmill. (Image: boggy22/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wear a hernia truss during each exercise session. A hernia truss supports your abdominal muscles to prevent the hernia from worsening during exercise. Your doctor can prescribe a truss for you, or you can purchase one from a medical supply store or an online retailer.

Step 2

Use weight machines and seated exercises. Standing exercises force you to engage your abdominal muscles, which may increase the pressure in your torso and aggravate your hernia. Exercise machines isolate the muscles with little-to-no abdominal involvement.

Step 3

Avoid exercises that flex and extend your spine. Crunches, oblique exercises and back extensions can all aggravate an umbilical hernia. Do not work your abs until after the hernia has healed.

Step 4

Focus on aerobic exercises such as walking, running or an aerobics class. Cardiovascular exercise does not put as much strain on your abdomen as resistance. Wear your truss to provide additional abdominal support and be mindful of how you feel during the exercise.


Stop exercising immediately if you experience pain in the area of the hernia, or if the hernia bulges out. Consult your physician if your hernia worsens or if you experience persistent abdominal pain.

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