You may be the healthiest person, exercising several days a week, eating healthy, and love being active outdoors, but there are some health conditions you can’t just power through. A hernia is one of them. It might seem like nothing, just some pain, but hernias can be quite dangerous.
While there are several varied forms of hernia, the most common of all is called inguinal hernia common in both men and women, and femoral hernia largely affects older women. If you experience extreme groin pain while hiking, an inguinal hernia is the one to blame.
If you’re planning to go on a hike and suspect a hernia, it’s not something to ignore. Here’s everything you need to know about hiking and hernias, including an in-depth understanding of what a hernia is and its effects on hiking post-surgery.
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Warning: While we love hiking we are not doctors and you should always seek appropriate medical advice from doctors for health issues.
What Is A Hernia?
A hernia is when an internal organ distends through a weakened muscle or tissue in your abdominal cavity.
For example, if the intestines poke out of a weak muscle or torn tissue, it results in a hernia around the groin area. When a hernia occurs, one can feel the organ that is jutting out and see it on the outer surface of the body. And this affected area becomes tender and inflamed.
Hernias usually show up as tiny bumps, and if left untreated, they can cause extreme discomfort. Invariably, most hernias occur between the chest and the hips, which is why vigorous physical activities like climbing and hiking are most affected by this problem.
Although women experience hernias too, an inguinal hernia is more common in men. This is because inguinal hernia is located very close to the inguinal canal. This is an internal passage from where the spermatic duct delivers fluids to the testicles. If you have a hernia, it will be most visible around the inner thigh or the sides of your abdomen.
Can You Get A Hernia From Hiking?
You can get a hernia from hiking because you’re exerting tremendous amounts of energy while walking up a hill or climbing rocks.
Anyone can get a hernia; its occurrence is not necessarily rooted in good health. The usual culprits for hernias include aging, weak muscles, injuries, constipation, obesity, and ascites. And the most common cause is vigorous exercise and heavy weight lifting.
On a hike, you use your abdomen muscles the most, especially while walking uphill. This can trigger an inguinal hernia to occur. If you do get a hernia while you’re hiking, you will feel it immediately.
The common symptoms of a hernia include acute pain and discomfort while walking, bending, coughing, and climbing.
Can I Go Hiking With A Hernia?
The answer to that is both a yes and a no. It completely depends on the type of hernia you are diagnosed with.
Among the several types of hernia one could have, the hiatus hernia affects the stomach and the abdomen more than the groin area. For people with a hiatus hernia, walking isn’t a problem. This type of hernia often leads to discomfort and pain in the person after they eat or after a heavy night of drinking. Even excess coffee consumption can set the hernia off.
For those diagnosed with inguinal hernia, hiking and climbing is a difficult and sometimes a nearly impossible task. Of course, the intensity of the hernia makes all the difference, but an inguinal hernia almost always needs immediate medical attention otherwise it can get worse and may also be life-threatening.
Is Hiking Good For Herniated Disc?
Yes, The best way to recover from a herniated disc is to do low-impact exercises such as aerobics, swimming, and low-intensity hiking.
The herniated disc is located in the lumbar spine or the lower back region. If you’re experiencing symptoms of pain or discomfort because of a herniated disc, you might want to avoid sitting for extended periods of time.
Even bending and doing sit-ups can flare up the pain and cause additional complications. If you feed your pets on the floor often and you bend down to fill up their bowls, the constant action of bending and lifting yourself back up will make the herniated disc worse.
Most people who suffer from a herniated disc find slow and steady walks up a hill comforting. Hiking down a hill, on the other hand, may aggravate the pain because when descending, you end up putting a significant amount of pressure on your lower back. This could further damage the herniated disc. Hiking uphill boosts the flow of blood and oxygen to the lower back area, and the nutrients in your blood can help the herniated disc to heal and recover sooner.
As long as your hiking path doesn’t force you to bend and stoop, you could go on light treks to better cope with a herniated disc.
Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on whether hiking is a low-impact exercise that you might be interested in.
Hiking After Hernia Surgery
In some cases, hernias aren’t a serious problem and you may not even need surgery. Having said that, hernias still need to be treated as they don’t go away on their own. Doctors usually recommend surgery only when the bulge becomes bigger and more painful. In such cases, it is invariably a minor, outpatient surgery and you will be discharged on the same day.
Recovering from a hernia surgery takes weeks, but you start feeling better in about 7 to 10 days post the procedure. As part of your recovery period, you would probably be advised to rest once you’re back home. Given the fact that your body is still surfacing from the aftereffects of anesthesia and post-operative medication, you might feel like staying in bed for a day or two.
Post this resting period, it’s best to take light walks around the house. If you feel any pain or discomfort while walking, get into bed and rest a little more. Once you start to feel like yourself again, you can start walking outside the house, provided you’re on leveled ground. However, most doctors would advise against hiking at this point because hiking this soon after surgery, especially on uneven and unpredictable surfaces, can hinder the healing process.
It’s best to leave hiking until at least 4 to 6 weeks after your hernia surgery. Even then, your doctor may urge you to take it easy and avoid strenuous activities like climbing. If you’re an avid hiker who’s impatiently waiting to get outdoors again, give it at least 12 weeks to recover completely from hernia surgery.
You may be suffering from a hernia without experiencing any pain. This is why you should consult a professional when you see even the slightest bulge in your thigh, groin, abdomen, or stomach. While walking can help you recover from a hernia repair surgery, strenuous hiking and steep climbing can make an existing hernia condition worse.
For those who can’t resist the outdoors, there are several ways in which you can avoid getting an inguinal hernia. Start by keeping your weight in check. Maintain the right posture when you’re doing any sort of heavy lifting. Work on your core muscles and increase core strength to better support your abdomen. Finally, wear the right kind of hiking gear to minimize the impact on your groin muscles.