Can You Get a Hernia From Deadlifts?

Posted on 04 Sep 2013 13:43

Many People Believe You Can Rupture Yourself (Get a Hernia) During Deadlifts, But Is it True?

By Eric Troy

It is commonly believed that hernias are caused by a single bout of heavy lifting. Certainly, many people have felt the first symptoms of a hernia as they lift something heavy, such as on a construction job or just around the house. Therefore, it makes sense that the deadlift could be a prime cause of hernias. After all, a great amount of strain can be placed on the abdominal wall, and this strain might tear open the tissues. There are different kinds of hernias, but surely, if anything can give you one, it is the deadlift. Although there is no such thing as a 'deadlift hernia,' there is special danger, many people claim, during the negative phase of the lift, when you are returning the bar to the floor. Is this true?

Well, if it were true that heavy lifting was a cause of hernias, we'd expect to see more hernias in strength trainees, Olympic lifters, Powerlifters, and other strength athletes. But we do not.

What About Sports Hernias?

It's likely that the term "sports hernia" just popped into your mind. Why is there such a thing as a sports hernia if athletes don't get a lot of hernias? Sports hernias, it turns out, are not really hernias at all. There is longstanding groin pain, and this pain can extend to the scrotum, such as in an inguinal hernia, but there is no actual hole in the abdominal wall, and none of its contents protrude from this nonexistent hole. A sports hernia, instead, is the stretching and tearing of some of the groin muscles. Also, even sports hernias are not more common in lifters, but in athletes such as tennis players, hockey players, soccer players, etc. Read more about sports hernias here.

Although it is still possible that the highly increased abdominal pressure during the deadlift could force abdominal contents through weak natural openings, or acquired openings, there is no evidence that this is a common occurrence during the lift. If you develop the symptoms of a hernia during the lift, it is quite likely that you already had a hernia, perhaps for years. A hernia can go unnoticed and symptom-free for a very long period of time, and it is possible to have a hernia that never really bothers you.

A groin pull, especially during returning the bar, is quite possible and the symptoms of such a strain could easily mimic a hernia. Although I would never tell you that heavy deadlifting is a risk-free activity, I think that you can rest assured that there is not a high risk for hernia during the lift, in general.

1. Abrahamson, Jack. "Chapter 16: Mechanisms Of Hernia Formation." Abdominal Wall Hernias: Principles and Management. New York: Springer, 2001. 133-34.
2. Fitzgibbons, Robert J., Jr.,MD FACS. "Hernias of the Abdominal Wall." Ground Up Strength. Ground Up Strength, 31 May 2009. Web. 04 Sept. 2013.
3. Bedi, Asheesh. "Symptoms of Sports Hernia and Athletic Pubalgia." Ground Up Strength. Ground Up Strength, 16 Feb 2011. Web. 04 Sept. 2013.

This page contains affiliate links to We have not been compelled in any way to place links to particular products and have received no compensation for doing so. We receive a very small commission only if you buy a product after clicking on one of these affiliate links.

This page created 04 Sep 2013 13:43
Last updated 21 Mar 2018 05:24

© 2019 by Eric Troy and Ground Up Strength. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.