The Runner’s Dilemma: Can You Keep Jogging with an Abdominal Hernia?

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

You’re out for your routine jog, the sun’s warmth on your skin, and the rhythm of your steps setting the pace for a perfect day.

But then, a nagging thought creeps in – you have an abdominal hernia. Can you keep running, or should you hit pause until it’s fully healed?

Well, you’re in the right place because today, I’m going to unravel the mysteries of abdominal hernias and explore the ins and outs of running with this condition.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just lacing up your sneakers, this article is your go-to guide for making informed decisions about your running routine.

So, let’s lace up and hit the pavement – together!

What Is Abdominal Hernia?

So, what exactly is this “abdominal hernia” thing, and how might it affect your fitness and overall well-being?

Let me paint you a picture. Your body’s like a well-constructed fortress, with a protective wall called the abdominal wall. But sometimes, a sneaky internal organ, like your bladder or intestine, decides it’s time for an adventure. It pushes through a weakened section of that protective wall, resulting in a noticeable lump or bulge.

That’s your abdominal hernia saying, “Hello, world!”

Now, there are a few different types of these hernias.

First up, we’ve got the inguinal hernias, which often occur in the lower abdominal groin area. Then, there are the femoral hernias, which tend to strike the groin near the femoral canal.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve also got hiatal hernias, making their presence known in the upper abdomen, and umbilical hernias, afflicting the area around your belly button.

How To Treat Abdominal Hernias

When it comes to abdominal hernias, it’s crucial to know your options and understand why taking action matters.

Now, in many cases, persistent hernias will call for a little surgical intervention. Yep, we’re talking about a trip to the operating room. But don’t worry, it’s a well-practiced procedure, and your skilled medical team will have you covered.

Here’s the kicker: ignoring that pesky abdominal hernia is like playing with fire.

There’s a real danger of something called “strangulation,” and trust me, you don’t want any part of it. Strangulation is a situation where your intestines decide to throw a party, but the venue is way too small – so they get trapped. This hinders and in some cases, completely cuts off circulation to your precious tissue. It’s a life-threatening emergency, and you’d want to avoid it at all costs.

Now, how do you spot the red flags of a strangulated hernia? Keep an eye out for these telltale signs:

  • Fever – when your body temperature goes haywire.
  • Vomiting – not the kind from a rollercoaster ride.
  • Trapped gas – feeling like you’re carrying around an unwanted balloon.
  • Chronic pain – not the run-of-the-mill ache; but persistent discomfort.
  • Nausea – that queasy feeling that just won’t quit.
  • Constipation – when things in the bathroom aren’t quite as they should be.
  • Skin darkening – no, you’re not getting a tan; it’s a concerning sign.

Can you Run With an Abdominal Hernia?

Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d hope. It’s a bit like navigating a maze, and here’s why: whether you can keep running with a hernia depends on a few key factors.

First up, it all hinges on the severity of your hernia and how intense your training is. The milder your hernia, the better your chances of keeping up with your running routine. But if it’s throwing a full-on hernia tantrum, you might need to hit the pause button.

Here’s the silver lining, though: running at a low intensity is often recommended for hernia patients. Why, you ask? Well, running can actually help shed those extra pounds, which might just ease some of your hernia-related symptoms.

But (yes, there’s a but), remember that the intensity of your runs matters. If your hernia is causing you to wrestle with acid reflux symptoms, going hard or long on your runs might not be your best bet. It could potentially crank up the pain factor.

Additional Resource – Can You Run With An Abdominal Strain?

Intense Training And Hernia

Hernias don’t appreciate strenuous workouts.

Any activity that puts a squeeze on your abdominal region can send your hernia into a frenzy. While running might seem like it’s all about those legs, don’t be fooled – your core is in on the action, too!

Don’t just take my word for it; there’s solid research to back this up. A study published in PLOS One decided to peek under the hood and see what happens to our cores during running. They had 28 subjects undergo three months of Pilates training, which is all about strengthening that core.

What they found was quite telling – during running, our core muscles, especially those obliques (the side muscles), kick into high gear. And guess what? The more you rev up your running pace, the more your core muscles get involved.

Now, here comes the catch: running, especially when you’re cranking up the speed, could potentially worsen your hernia symptoms by ramping up those core muscle contractions. It’s like adding fuel to the fire!

But overall, if your hernia isn’t causing you agony or inflammation, running is generally considered low-risk.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a chat with your doctor before you lace up. However, if that hernia decides to go rogue and strangulate, which basically means it’s messing with your bowel’s blood supply – well, that’s a medical emergency.

Trust me; you’ll know when it’s happening. Vomiting, bowel issues, and an overall unpleasant time are all telltale signs that I’ve already mentioned. In that case, don’t hesitate – get yourself to a medical pro pronto!

How To Manage A Hernia While Running

Now, let’s talk about the comeback plan for all you hernia warriors who are eager to hit the pavement once again.

The golden rule here is gradual progress, and it all starts with channeling your inner beginner. Embrace the mindset of someone just starting their running journey – even if you’re an experienced runner.

Here’s a step-by-step roadmap to guide you back to the running track:

Before you even think about picking up the pace, start with a leisurely walk. Aim for a comfortable pace, around three to five miles per hour. The key here is to do it without experiencing any pain or discomfort. Listen to your body – it’ll tell you if you’re pushing too hard.

As you begin walking regularly without any issues, it’s time to add a little more distance to your outings. Slowly increase the mileage and endurance – don’t rush this process. The goal is to avoid any post-surgery complications and let your body adapt at its own pace.

Do Some Plyometric

Plyometrics are like the turbo boosters for your body, helping you get ready for the rigors of running. These explosive exercises can elevate your strength, agility, and overall fitness, which are essential for a smooth return to the miles.

Here’s a quick plyometric routine that you can incorporate into your comeback plan. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then give yourself a one-minute breather. Repeat the whole circuit three times for maximum benefits:

  • Hop in Place: Start with some simple hops while staying in one spot. It’s an excellent way to warm up your legs and get those muscles firing.
  • Hop Side to Side on Two Feet: Now, let’s amp it up a bit. Jump from side to side, landing softly on both feet. This exercise helps improve your lateral movement and stability.
  • Hop Forward/Backward on Two Feet: Take those hops forward and backward now. It’s all about building strength and coordination.
  • Single Leg Broad Jump: It’s time to work on that explosive power. Jump forward with one leg, landing on the same leg, then switch to the other. This exercise targets your balance and strength.
  • Squat Jumps: Get into a squat position and explode upwards into a jump. This one is fantastic for strengthening your legs and core.
  • Burpees: We saved the best for last – burpees! You’ll love to hate them. They combine a squat, push-up, and jump, offering a full-body workout. They’re like a crash course in plyometrics and endurance.

Walk Run

Now, let’s transition from walking to a beautiful walk/run combo – a strategy that’s perfect for easing back into running after a hernia.

Here’s how you can do it:

Start by continuing your regular walks, but this time, inject some running intervals into the mix. For instance, you can begin by walking for a few minutes to warm up, then transition into a gentle jog for a minute or two. Afterward, return to walking for recovery. Gradually increase the duration of your jogging intervals as your body becomes more comfortable.

Listen to Your Body:

Pay close attention to how your body responds. You should be able to complete these walk/run exercises without experiencing any pain or discomfort in your abdominal area.

Touch your abdomen gently – it shouldn’t feel tender or painful. If it does, it’s a sign to take it slower and consult with your healthcare provider.

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