Can I exercise when I have a hernia?

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wondering if it’s safe to exercise if you have a hernia?

Trying to maintain an active lifestyle while dealing with a hernia can be difficult. People often wonder if it’s even safe to exercise with a hernia. Although it is possible, it’s important to first speak with a medical professional to be sure you’re choosing exercises and activities that won’t make your hernia worse.  

Talk with your doctor first

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a hernia, your first step should be to schedule a consultation with an experienced hernia doctor who can assess the severity of your hernia.

Our specialists at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) are trained to assess each individual situation to determine the best treatment option for you.  

Is hernia surgery necessary?

Hernias cannot heal on their own. While surgery may not be necessary right away, the only way to permanently remedy your hernia is to have it repaired surgically.

Early intervention will prevent your symptoms from getting worse and will make your recovery from hernia surgery easier. This means you’ll be able to get back to the activities you enjoy quicker and with less pain.

Tips for exercising safely with a hernia

Our experienced surgeons at the Hernia Center of NGMC can help develop an exercise plan that allows you to safely exercise prior to surgery – without exacerbating your hernia – while also maximizing your recovery post-surgery.

Once you’ve been given clearance to exercise, you’ll want to follow some general guidelines for exercising safely. Here are a few tips:

  1. Focus on your breathing.
    Don’t hold your breath while exercising; breathe out when you are exerting yourself and breathe in as you relax. You can decrease the pressure in your abdomen and reduce the instinct to strain by concentrating on your breathing during exercise.
  2. Wear protective undergarments.
    Protective underwear (such as compression shorts or similar items) can help support your abdomen and groin, lessening any unnecessary exertion while exercising.
  3. Continue light exercise.
    Because obesity is a risk factor for hernias, we recommend you continue light exercise, unless prohibited by your doctor.

The best exercises for people with hernias

It’s best to stick to low-impact activities prior to surgery to avoid making your hernia worse. We suggest:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Light jogging
  • Gentle yoga
  • Cycling

Exercises to avoid when you have a hernia

There are certain exercises and activities that you should avoid when dealing with a hernia. Some of these include:

  • Heavy exertion exercises, such as weightlifting, that cause you to strain.
  • Overstretching your abdominal wall. Movements that lengthen the abdominal muscles, such as an upward dog position in yoga, put strain on the muscle walls and should be avoided prior to surgery.
  • Core exercises such as planks, sit-ups, crunches and some Pilates exercises.
  • High impact physical activities or contact sports.

Get back to an active lifestyle

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a hernia, our specialists at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center can help. Give us a call at 770-219-4040 to schedule an appointment today.

About the Hernia Center of NGMC

At the Hernia Center of NGMC, our hernia surgeons specialize in hernia repair. Each surgeon performs between 15 to 30 hernia surgeries a month. By choosing the Hernia Center of NGMC, you can trust you’ll see a hernia doctor who is highly experienced and will provide the highest quality hernia repair and surgical care possible. In fact, our hernia surgeons at the Hernia Center have been recognized by Surgical Review Corporation for their quality outcomes and expertise.