When it comes to weightlifting exercises, the deadlift is often lauded as one of the most effective.
This exercise works almost every muscle in your body, including your back, legs, and arms.
However, some people have raised concerns that deadlifts could cause hernias.
So, what's the truth?
Let's take a closer look.
What is a Hernia?
Before answering whether or not deadlifts can cause hernias, it's important to understand exactly what a hernia is.
A hernia occurs when an organ or other piece of tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscles. Hernias can occur in various places but are most common in the groin area.
That being said, the symptoms of a hernia vary depending on the location.
For example, symptoms of an abdominal hernia may include:
- A bulge in the area where the hernia is located
- Pain or discomfort, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
- A burning or gurgling sensation in the abdomen
Causes of Hernias
Several different factors can contribute to the development of a hernia.
One common cause is simply wearing clothing that's too tight.
This puts unnecessary pressure on your muscles and can cause them to weaken over time.
Other causes of hernias include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Straining during bowel movements
- Lifting heavy objects
- Coughing or sneezing
- Pregnancy (due to the extra pressure on the abdominal muscles)
Of course, other factors such as age, genetics, and obesity can contribute to hernia development.
However, if you're healthy and have no predisposing factors for hernia development, you're unlikely to develop a hernia from weightlifting exercises like deadlifts.
In most cases, hernias are not particularly dangerous and can be treated with over-the-counter medication or surgery. However, if a hernia goes untreated, it could lead to life-threatening complications such as bowel obstruction or perforation.
As such, it's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of hernias so that you can seek medical attention if necessary.
Can Deadlifts Cause Hernias?
Now that we know what hernias are and how they can occur let's answer whether or not deadlifts can cause them.
In short, the answer is yes, but only if you have a pre-existing condition that makes you susceptible to developing a hernia in the first place.
There are two types of deadlifts: conventional and sumo.
In a conventional deadlift, your feet are about hip-width apart, and you grip the barbell with your hands outside your legs.
In a sumo deadlift, your feet are wider than hip-width apart, and you grip the barbell with your hands inside your legs.
So, which type of deadlift is more likely to cause a hernia?
The answer may surprise you.
According to one study, sumo deadlifts are associated with a lower rate of hernia development than conventional deadlifts.
The study authors suggest that this may be because sumo deadlifts place less stress on the abdominal muscles than conventional deadlifts.
When performed correctly, deadlifts put very little strain on your abdominal muscles.
However, if you have a pre-existing weakness in those muscles, such as an inguinal hernia, deadlifts could worsen that weakness and cause the tissue to protrude through the muscle wall.
Thankfully, this scenario is relatively rare.
However, if you're concerned that you may be at risk of developing a hernia, it's always best to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
How Does Deadlift Cause Hernia?
Now that we know what a hernia is let's talk about how a deadlift can cause it.
When you deadlift heavy weights during this exercise, it strains the muscles and tissues in your abdomen.
If these muscles and tissues are already weak or damaged, it can cause them to rupture, resulting in a hernia.
In some cases, people with pre-existing abdominal weakness or damage may be more likely to experience this complication.
Can Deadlift be Done Safely?
Despite the concerns about deadlift causing hernia, this exercise can be done safely if you take some precautions. First, make sure to warm up properly before lifting any weights. This will help reduce your risk of injury.
Second, start with lighter weights and slowly work your way up to heavier ones.
And lastly, stop immediately and consult your doctor if you feel any pain during the exercise.
What are the risks of doing deadlifts if you have a hernia?
A few risks are associated with deadlifts if you have a hernia.
First, the increased pressure on the abdominal area can cause the hernia to become more pronounced.
Second, lifting weights can increase the risk of developing a hernia.
And finally, if you already have a hernia, doing deadlifts could cause it to rupture.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort when performing deadlifts, it's best to stop and consult your doctor to see if they recommend postponing or avoiding this exercise altogether.
Can you still do deadlifts if you have a hernia?
Yes, you can still do deadlifts if you have a hernia.
However, taking precautions when lifting weights with a hernia is important, and consulting with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Some tips for doing deadlifts with a hernia include:
- Use a weight belt to help support your back;
- Leaping your core engaged throughout the entire lift;
- Avoid lifting too heavy of a weight. start with lighter weights and gradually increase the amount as you get stronger.
Remember, always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Are there other exercises that can help you achieve the same results as deadlifts without risking your health?
Yes, plenty of exercises can help you achieve the same results as a deadlift. Some alternatives include the following:
- Bent-over row
- Lat pulldown
- Seated row
- One arm dumbbell row
- Dumbbell curl
- Barbell curl
Remember, it's always best to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program if you have a hernia or other pre-existing condition.
Deadlifts can be a great exercise for overall strength and muscle development, but they're not worth risking your health.
How can you prevent hernias from developing in the first place – aside from avoiding weightlifting exercises altogether?
Hernias don't have to be a pain in the… well, you know.
You can do several things to prevent hernias from developing in the first place.
Hernias usually develop when there is a weak spot in the abdominal muscles.
This weak spot allows an organ or tissue to push through. There are several things you can do to prevent hernias from developing in the first place:
- Avoid activities that strain the abdominal muscles, such as weightlifting.
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of strain on the abdominal muscles.
- Wear supportive clothing, such as a girdle, to help hold the abdominal muscles in place.
- Stop smoking, which can weaken the abdominal muscles.
Following these simple tips can help you avoid developing a hernia. However, if you have already developed a hernia, you should see a doctor so it can be treated properly.
What other tips for staying safe when lifting weights at the gym or at home?
Whether a casual gym-goer or a dedicated weightlifter, it's important to stay safe when lifting weights. Here are a few tips to help you avoid injury:
1. Warm up before you start lifting. A light jog or dynamic stretching will help prepare your muscles for the workout.
2. Use proper form. This means keeping your spine neutral, using a full range of motion, and controlling the weight throughout the lift.
3. Don't let your ego get in the way. It's better to lift lighter weights with good form than to try to lift too much and risk injury.
4. Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, stop lifting and seek professional advice before continuing.
following these tips will help you stay safe when lifting weights, so you can enjoy the benefits of a healthy workout without injuring yourself.
All in all, there's no need to worry that deadlifts will cause hernias unless you have a pre-existing condition that makes you susceptible to developing one. However, if you're concerned about your risk of developing a hernia, it's always best to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen just to be safe.