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Can I Exercise With a Hernia?

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Can I Exercise With a Hernia?
Don't aggravate your hernia by straining the surrounding muscles.

Hernias often occur when you've exerted your body to the point where the pressure is so extreme that a sac of lining pushes through the tissue surrounding a muscles. Abdominal and femoral hernias are common in adults and are usually the result of strain. If you've noticed a hernia, you should know that they're usually harmless. Still, you may need to adapt your workout routine to account for the weakness in your tissue and your current hernia.

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Exercises to Try

It's typically fine to exercise with a hernia so long as you avoid aggravating the hernia or the surrounding muscle tissue. By trying low-impact exercises that avoid the site of your hernia, you can stay fit while you and your doctor decide on a plan of action. Water aerobics are especially appropriate for hernia sufferers, since they don't require weightlifting and are generally low-impact. A walking routine, dance and other non-weight-centric exercise routines are also safe to try.

Exercises to Avoid

You may find that your hernia becomes painful, especially when participating in activities that caused the hernia in the first place. Exerting and straining yourself to lift heavy weights should be completely avoided, even if you're lifting weights with muscles other than those around the hernia. Avoid exercising the muscles around the hernia. For instance, if you have an abdominal hernia, don't do crunches. This could make your hernia worse or even cause more hernias to break through the tissue.


Before you begin exercising with your hernia, make an appointment to discuss your options with your doctor. Hernias can be painful if aggravated and your doctor may advise against certain high-impact methods of exercise. When working out, constantly assess the condition of your hernia and stop if you're in pain. As you choose exercise methods, remember to avoid anything that causes you to strain. An excellent rule of thumb is to avoid exercise that makes you grown or grunt with the effort.

Surgery and Recovery

The only way to get rid of a hernia altogether is to undergo surgery. Not all hernias need surgery; some can be watched carefully and are small enough to live with. If your doctor has suggested that you have a hernia surgically removed, the process is short and involves an incision, repositioning the bulge back under the tissue wall and then patching the weakened area with fine mesh before closing the incision. The recovery time is generally short, but you'll need to engage in low-impact exercise only until you incision heals completely.

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