Q. Hernias are a common injury among bodybuilders, powerlifters and pretty much anyone who lifts heavy weights in or outside of the gym. And getting back into the gym after hernia surgery can be a little frightening.
What is the best post-surgery hernia workout? Be specific.
How can one help prevent getting a hernia?
What are some signs that one has a hernia?
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Hernias are a common injury among bodybuilders, powerlifters, and pretty much anyone who lifts heavy weights in or outside of the gym. And getting back into the gym after hernia surgery can be a little frightening.
Nothing is worse to an athlete or bodybuilder than having to stop their training, especially by getting injured, thus stagnating their progress. No one goes into some sort of activity hoping to get injured, so accidents like these can happen to anybody. But, luckily with good preventative measures and progressive post-injury workouts, you can help yourself be safe from getting or worsening injuries, like hernias.
So you've finally got the work done and you're feeling like you can get back into lifting. Consider your limits, not only what you could do, but also what you can do now that you have been through a serious injury and need to convalesce.
The most effective and safest way to workout post-surgery is slow progression.1 Do not jump right back into what you were lifting before your injury.
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A good training program after an injury like a hernia should include frequent training of your core. Strengthening your core alone can help prevent against a further problem or undoing your fixture. For muscle group days that also include "core" exercises, do the core exercises last so your core will have strength for the exercises before.
Within the first few weeks, hold down your ego and nurse yourself back into the groove. Of course not all exercises you perform will need lower weight at first - working out with higher reps and lower weight at first will not only allow your body time to get used to the physical work, but prepare your muscles, joints and tendons for more weight to come!
Light cardio will also help to keep blood circulating making sure your muscles are getting enough oxygen in the blood and nutrients to where it's needed.
After at least 3 weeks at a higher rep range, work up to greater weights, and lower your rep range down to say, 10 reps per set. After a few weeks progressing, find your weights and volume you still feel comfortable with, that meet your athletic goals and not sacrifice your safety, to keep you from getting injured again.
First and foremost, know your limits. Do not try to go above what you can handle to show off or rush progress. Not only can severe injuries like hernias do bodily harm, they can also put your training and progression to a stand-still.
Another easy, yet often overlooked preventative measure is to warm-up. Even the fastest cars in the world can't go from 0-to-60 without a warm engine and a few seconds in between.
To mention again, strengthening your core can be a great preventative measure against hernias and other lifting injuries. Ensuring your body can handle the weight load physical before going for that PR is essential to being able to continue with your regimen.
I know for my job, which includes a great deal of heavy lifting, I do not have to lift items more than 70 pounds. For other jobs, this may be a different value. For your own sake, do not push yourself over your limit if you do not have to. No job or salary is worth damaging your body, especially if your life revolves around health and fitness like many bodybuilders out there.
Most importantly, be sure you are lifting with good form. Do not settle for sloppy reps in pursuit of a new PR. Sure, some final reps of a set may be shaky or incomplete, but I mean this in the way of posture and position.
Deadlifting for example, keep those eyes forward to ensure your back maintains its natural curvature and minimize excess stress. For squats, keep balanced, even a slight imbalance becomes blatantly pronounced with high amounts of weight.
I myself have never experienced this type of injury (knock on wood). But, talking to co-workers who have had this type of injury, they all seem to mention lumps. Some hernias may not cause pain at all unless performing some sort of action, or can be severely painful.
Partial hernias may feel like a "squishy-lump" in your groin or midsection area and can be sensitive to touch. "Strangulated" hernias can be painful even without stress and can actually show redness and swelling in the same areas. These should be brought to medical attention immediately.1
Another symptom that can happen in some hernias is feeling "bunged-up." Your pipes inside can actually get tied up or blocked (think of bending a rubber garden-hose) stopping flow in its tracks. I'm sure most of us know the feeling of being "bunged-up."
That said, if you aren't sure if you experienced a hernia, don't risk further or full injury and get it checked out right away. Your worries may be happily found negative, or you may just save yourself more trouble and pain.
Guyton and Hall - Textbook of Medical Physiology, 11th Edition