Helpful Tips for Hernia Prevention and Healing

HERNIA Medical Report with Composition of Medicaments - Pills, Injections and Syringe

Key Points

  • Prevent hernia development by avoiding activities that put excessive stress on the abdominal muscles.

  • Surgical intervention may be necessary to treat and repair hernia development.

  • Following a healthy diet and exercise protocol significantly reduces your risk of developing hernia-related injuries.

When heading toward the gym, the last thing many think about is the possibility of sustaining an injury during training. The reality is there are many possible ways to injure yourself through improper lifts, falls, and other straining activities that place undue stress on the body. How do you prevent hernia issues and other injuries from taking place?

Hernias are a common condition that occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Most common among physically active individuals who put pressure on the abdominals, the hernia is painful and, at times, life-threatening. Taking steps to prevent hernia injuries is an essential part of maintaining good health and staying active. 

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia develops as a tear in the abdominal wall gives way to the tissues and organs directly behind it. This causes a visible bulge or lump in the affected area, and it may accompany pain, discomfort, and bowel dysfunction. 

Hernias occur in various parts of the body, but they are most commonly found in the abdomen, groin, and upper thighs. Several factors play a role in their appearance, yet there is hope for treatment and prevention that puts you back on the path to good health. 

Contributing Factors to Hernia Development

While genetic predisposition plays a factor in hernias, several other lifestyle choices contribute to this painful condition. Some of these factors may be prevented, while others must be treated as they occur to preserve and protect your quality of life.

Abdominal Weakness and Tearing

Hernias often occur when there is a significant weakness in the tissues and muscle that makes up the abdominal wall. This could occur due to a congenital defect or other factors such as obesity, aging, and pregnancy.

Pressure on the Abdomen

Activities that place excessive pressure on the abdomen, such as coughing, straining during bowel movements, and heavy-weight training, also contribute to hernia development. A revealing bulge forms as tissue gets pushed outward under the stress of surrounding muscle.

Chronic Coughing and Sneezing

Chronic sneezing and coughing stress abdominal muscles, leading to hernia development. As you continue to sneeze and cough, you exacerbate the injury, potentially increasing your risk for hernia-related complications.


Increased pressure on the pelvis and abdomen during pregnancy contributes to pregnancy hernias. Treatment is generally limited due to the risk of harm to the developing child. Doctors advise rest and supportive garments as conservative ways to manage, with surgery being a last resort for emergency situations when a hernia becomes incarcerated or strangulated.

Previous Abdominal Surgeries

Past abdominal trauma and surgeries leave scar tissue behind. This weakens the abdominal wall and increases your risk for tearing and hernia development.

Not all hernias occur because of physical activity or weightlifting. Some hernias develop spontaneously without any known cause. If predisposed to hernia development, know that there are steps to take that minimize their occurrence and severity. 

Preventing Hernias: Best Steps

Most hernias are inguinal hernias, where a section of the intestine pushes through a muscle near your groin known as the inguinal canal. While there isn't much you can do to combat weakness of the inner abdominal wall, preventative steps make a significant difference in staying bulge and pain-free.

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Excess body weight places continuous pressure on the abdominal wall when standing or moving, which increases your risk of developing a hernia. While losing weight is a daunting and challenging task, following a physician-approved protocol involving exercise and healthy food choices soon yields results that you see and feel.

Get the Right Kind of Exercise

Being physically active helps prevent hernia injuries, but you must be mindful of your type of movement. Here are some of the best exercises to strengthen the abdominals and keep those innards securely tucked in.


Many yoga poses, such as the boat, plank, and upward-facing dog, engage the core muscles and promote greater abdominal strength. Regularly practicing these poses builds supportive connecting tissue in the abdominals, preventing hernia development.


Josef Pilates knew a few things about the human body: "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." His series of exercises was an innovation to the fitness industry, with many loyal followers attesting to the effectiveness of his Pilates protocol.

Pilates and its targeted approach to abdominal strength and alignment are a perfect activity to engage in for a healthy core. An emphasis on correct posture helps decrease intra-abdominal pressure, preventing injuries.

Abdominal Work

When performed correctly, abdominal work is an effective tool for strengthening, toning, and improving overall core strength and stability. A strong core improves balance and reduces the risk of falls, a common cause of hernia development.

A focus on correct form and posture is essential, for any strain and incorrect performance leads to hernia-related injuries. Know what you're doing before you get down on the mat.

Light Weight Training

Light weight training and resistance exercise offer a comprehensive approach to total body strength; surrounding connective tissue and other muscle groups form a strong, protective layer around the abdominal muscles, further strengthening them.

As you delve into the world of heavier lifting and more vigorous routines, "exercise" caution. Excessive weight-bearing loads on a squat, for example, quickly escalate and evolve into injuries. Using proper form, warming up, and paying attention to your body's signals are the best strategies for keeping that abdominal wall and groin intact.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating right, staying hydrated, and avoiding foods that trigger gastrointestinal discomfort are essential to hernia prevention.

Eat the Right Foods

Eating fiber-rich foods promotes healthy bowel movement and reduces the risk of constipation. Straining that may have been a struggle in the past is no longer an issue, which protects you from excessive pressure and tearing of the abdominal wall that creates a hernia. Other examples of healthy preventative foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes.

Foods to Avoid

Some fiber-rich foods aid with reducing constipation, but certain fibrous foods may actually do more harm than good. If you currently suffer from hernial pain and discomfort, you may want to avoid foods such as broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, apples, dried fruits, and carbonated drinks to keep inflammation to a minimum.

Consider reducing your intake of dairy products, alcohol, sugar, and hard candy, as these do little to move food through your body efficiently. Any portion of an inflamed intestine is at risk of becoming a hernia if not properly maintained and managed.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration leads to constipation and difficulty with bowel movements, increasing your risk of hernia development. As you commit to proper hydration, your muscles and tissues remain healthy and strong, further protecting those vital core muscles.

Experts recommend you drink at least eight glasses of water per day. If you are physically active or live in a hot, humid environment, consider upping your consumption to stay hydrated, even through excessive sweat.

Hernia Occurrence: Now What?

So, you suspect you've overdone it in training and other daily life activities. How do you know that you've developed a hernia? Look for these telltale symptoms:

  • A noticeable bulge on either side of your pubic bone

  • Burning or aching sensations at the site of the bulge

  • Pain or discomfort in the groin when coughing, lifting, and bending over

  • Heavy, dragging sensation in the groin

  • Weakness and pressure at the site

  • Swelling and pain around the testicles as a result of the protruding intestine descending into the scrotum

If you can't push the bulge back in, its contents may be trapped in the abdominal wall. Incarcerated hernias cut off blood flow to the trapped tissue, which is a life-threatening condition if not treated. Signs of this condition include nausea, fever, sudden pain, a purplish color that intensifies, and an inability to move the bowels or pass gas. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice or experience any of these symptoms in you or your family members.

Home Treatment or Surgery?

There are some cases when it's possible to massage a soft hernia back into place, but most cases of hiatal and incarcerated hernias require surgical intervention to prevent further complications. Follow these tips at home to minimize pain and promote healing.

Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers

Consider taking over-the-counter pain medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium to reduce pain and swelling. Follow the recommended dosage on the label, taking care not to exceed daily limits set by the FDA. If the pain doesn't improve or you find yourself taking greater amounts to maintain comfort, see your doctor for other treatment options.

If you take blood thinners, check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter pain medication. Some of these drugs have unpleasant interactions with thinners that may exacerbate symptoms.

Wear a Truss

A temporary solution to keep a hernia in place until surgery is possible is the truss. Trusses are tight, supportive undergarments designed to fit male anatomy, though unisex and women-specific options are also available. These garments apply uniform pressure to the abdomen and groin that keep muscles and midriffs in place while giving the core a rest to promote healing. 

Cut Out Irritating Foods

Avoid heartburn-causing foods and larger meals. Opt instead for small meals throughout the day to reduce pressure on the stomach and alleviate pain. Avoid foods that cause heartburn, such as chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, caffeine, and fried, fatty foods. Many hiatal hernias are effectively managed through diet and over-the-counter antacids, eliminating the need for surgery.

Lose Weight

Hernias are uncomfortable, making it difficult to contemplate throwing on the sneakers for a neighborhood walk. Losing weight loss is a critical part of success in treating and preventing hernias, for any reduction in inflammation and abdominal pressure inevitably moves you toward better health. 

Engage in deliberate, gentle movement. Walks, swimming, and stretching are great ways to warm up the body and prepare it for more vigorous exercise. Combine this with a healthy eating regimen, and you have ideal conditions for weight loss.

Employ Natural Healing Alternatives

Incorporating natural remedies into your self-care routine complements traditional treatment for hernia pain and inflammation. Caster oil, ginger root, and essential oils are just a few natural combinations people use for pain relief and reduced inflammation. 

Turmeric and licorice herb powder are often mixed with milk to reduce inflammation and have a soothing effect on digestion before meals. 

Surgical Intervention

You may need to consider surgery if your hernia causes significant pain or discomfort or is at risk of becoming incarcerated. Ultimately, you and your doctor should determine the decision to undergo surgery, depending on your unique circumstances and risk factors.

You may approach hernia surgery in a few different ways. Traditional open surgery involves the surgeon making a single large incision near the hernia, pushing the bulging tissue back into place. They then strengthen the abdominal wall with mesh patches or stitches to hold the wound together while the body heals.

In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes small incisions near the herniated site and inserts a thin, lighted tube with a camera and other small surgical instruments into the abdomen. They use the tools to push the tissue back into place and reinforce the abdominal wall with a mesh patch. Generally speaking, laparoscopic surgery has a shorter recovery time and less scarring than an open surgical procedure.

Follow your doctor's after-surgery suggestions to ensure that you yield the recovery you're hoping for. Take these strategic steps forward to heal fully.

Avoid Heavy Lifting

Your doctor may advise you to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities in the weeks and months after surgery. Do what's possible to reduce or minimize strain on the surgical area to prevent tearing of the surgical site.

Gradually Increase Activity

After your initial recovery period, gradually increase your activity level. Begin with light exercises like walking, and improve both the intensity and duration of your activities with your doctor's advice.

Practice Proper Lifting Techniques

Weight lifters and those lifting heavy objects daily must use proper lifting techniques, bending at the knees and lifting with the legs rather than the back. Protecting your mobility by protecting your spine is critical to keeping core stability and reducing the risk of hernia development. 

Take Preventative Measures for a Healthy Life!

Taking preventative measures and learning to manage hernia conditions properly when they occur is vital to maintaining a healthy life. With proper care and surgical intervention, if necessary, you minimize this painful condition's impact on your daily life.

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