There are so many weightlifters that it is easy to forget that weightlifting can be very dangerous, especially if you are not careful. You can have several potential injuries with weightlifting, including sprained joints, bruises from dropping weights, and in this case, a hernia. This article will explain what a hernia is and give tips on how you can avoid getting a hernia while deadlifting.
What is a hernia?
A hernia is when your large intestines protrude on your abdominal walls from the inside, resulting in a lump or bulge. Your abdominal muscles serve as a supporting wall for your internal organs in addition to being a layer of protection for them. Deadlifting and other heavy weightlifting activities can result in hernias because of the higher pressure it puts on the abdominal region. As a result, even less strenuous activities like sneezing, coughing, or bearing down can stress your abdominal walls, resulting in a hernia.
While hernias happen because of an irregular opening, like a tear, in a tissue wall, allowing other organs to protrude through, hernias also occur for various other reasons. Hernias can result from physical activities, like, in this case, weightlifting. However, you may simply be genetically predisposed to having weaker abdominal walls.
Nevertheless, most weightlifting-related hernias may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. When it is symptomatic, there is a visible bulge, which can cause pain and discomfort. However, as the name implies, you may not know you have a hernia when it is asymptomatic.
Tips to avoid a Hernia while deadlifting
Here are some tips that can help you reduce your chances of getting a hernia while deadlifting or performing any other heavy workout:
Strengthen your core
Because a hernia has to do with how much pressure your abdominals can take, creating a solid core to house your internal organs makes it less likely to develop a hernia when performing any heavy lifting like deadlifts. Likewise, most hernias are caused by weak abdominal muscles.
Stronger cores make it much easier to resist unwanted movement during your deadlift. Often, this unwanted movement can exert more abdominal pressure on you, increasing your chances of getting a hernia.
You can strengthen your core by performing exercises that work your abs, including planks, ab rolls, sit-ups, chin-ups, and many others. Furthermore, several full-body workouts also recruit your core muscles as they provide stability. It is essential that you focus on your core as a whole rather than just the front.
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💡 Quick Tip: The ab wheel is excellent for you if you want to build your core muscles, and I recommend Rogue Fitness’s Ab wheel for your comfort and core-developing needs.
Learn and apply the Valsalva maneuver
The Valsalva maneuver is a breathing method that elevates the pressure within your abdominal cavity. As a result, it increases core muscle activation and spinal column rigidity. Essentially, the maneuver helps to prepare your body for something heavy.
You should ideally perform the Valsalva when attempting heavier deadlifts. However, you should avoid the technique if you believe you are showing symptoms of a hernia or know you have one. This is because the method can worsen a preexisting hernia, despite its protective abilities.
The Valsalva maneuver is easy to perform and is similar to how you bear down during a bowel movement. To do it, you inhale and then hold your breath, using your fingers to close your nostrils tightly. Bear down as though you are straining to force bowel movement while assuming your stomach and chest muscles are very tight. After holding that position for about ten seconds, breathe out forcibly so you can rapidly release your breath.
Use proper form
Using proper form is vital to avoiding hernia while deadlifting. This tip is an extension of having a stronger core, as your form is supposed to allow you effectively leverage your core. So after developing a solid core, you need to be able to tap into its strength by using proper deadlifting forms.
We have already established the importance of resisting unwanted movements when you deadlift – they can exert more abdominal pressure on you, increasing your chances of getting a hernia. As a result, using proper form for your deadlifts will help you reduce the chances of developing a hernia as it will eliminate excessive and unnecessary movements as you perform the exercise.
💡 Quick Tip: A benefit you enjoy from using machines for your exercises is that they guide your movement and help you kill off unwanted movements. As a result, I recommend the Omni Rack Builder for your safe weightlifting needs.
Omni Rack Builder
Use a weightlifting belt
Ideally, knowing how to perform the Valsalva maneuver is a requirement before you wear a weightlifting belt. This is as the belt can only have optimal influence when you properly perform the maneuver and have decent control over your abdominal region. For your belt, I recommend Rep fitness’s Lifting Belt.
Despite this, you should know that a weightlifting belt may be unhelpful with hernias like an inguinal hernia. Nevertheless, several established weightlifters have said they feel better with a belt or experience reduced hernia-related pain.
Reduce your heavy lifting
Sometimes, the best way to guard against hernias is not lifting heavy. This is the go-to plan if you have a genetic predisposition to hernia. Unfortunately, heavy deadlifting may not be your thing, and this may be you if you have had hernias in the past.
Consider machines and other exercises
As an offshoot of the previous tip, you can switch to exercises that work the same muscles without necessarily resulting in as much pressure in your abdominal regions as the deadlifts. While doing this, you can also use machines instead for these exercises, as machines are generally safer. Furthermore, because machines restrict movement while you use them, there is less unwanted movement, resulting in reduced chances of developing a hernia. I recommend the Athena Plate-Loaded Side-Mount Functional Trainer for your all-purpose machine.
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