Is Running Bad for a Hernia?

Running is a sport that gives you the freedom to reach your fitness goals at your own pace. One thing that will put a halt to your running goals is experiencing a hernia. A hernia is a type of injury that occurs in the abdominal cavity. It is generally caused from exertion as well as other medical factors. It can be aggravated by strenuous activity such as running and other high-impact sports.

A pair of running shoes on the floor. (Image: BAaAej Ayjak/iStock/Getty Images)

Hernia

A hernia is a sac that forms in the peritoneum or lining of your abdominal cavity; it then protrudes out of a weak area of your fascia and becomes visible. If you have been diagnosed with a hernia, one of the first things you noticed was likely a bulge in the belly or groin area. In some cases, there may be discomfort or pain when you bend over or when you strain and lift heavy objects. Hernias are often associated with men, but they can also appear in women and even children.

Women are more likely to experience a femoral hernia -- a type of hernia that occurs in the upper thigh -- whereas men are more like to have a inguinal hernia that appears in the groin. Other types include hiatal, umbilical and incisional. If you have a hernia, or suspect you have one, you should refrain from physical activity, including running, until your doctor gives you permission to do so.

Risks

A hernia in itself generally poses no serious health risks unless it shows signs of strangulation. When this occurs, the hernia has increased in size and has cut off the blood supply inside of the sac. This requires surgery to readjust or remove the sac – failure to do so may cause tissue and, in some cases, nearby organs to die because of the lack of blood supply. Running is prohibited if you have any complications stemming from the herniated sac.

Healing Time

If you have a hernia, it may not go away on its own, although certain hernias, such as an umbilical hernia, can heal on their own. If you need surgery to repair the hernia, it may include open surgery where an incision is made in the area affected -- this could take up to two weeks for healing time. If you have a small laparoscopic surgical removal method, healing time is quicker. Once you have recovered, you can slowly begin to introduce physical activity into your lifestyle.

Running

If you are a runner, you will want to get back to running as soon as you can. Running may not be recommended in the days and weeks immediately following a hernia or having hernia surgery. The Hernia Center of Southern California suggests that you wait at least four weeks before beginning a vigorous running regimen. Start off by walking slowly for at least one hour a day after surgery. Progress into light jogging at the end of the first week post-surgery. Slowly introduce running in small intervals. If you have any pain or discomfort, stop immediately.

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