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Can Exercise Mend A Hernia?
By Edwin Flatto, M.D.
June 12, 2006
A hernia is a bulge or protrusion of soft tissue that has forced its way through or between muscles. When your abdominal muscles are well toned and firm, they press on various organs and tissues within your body, helping to keep them in their correct anatomical position. When these muscles are allowed to become weak and lose their tone, however, they are no longer able to perform their function efficiently and any undue strain or pressure inside your abdomen can force your muscles to part at that point.
As a result of this muscular weakness, part of your abdominal contents, generally a section of your intestine, pushes its way through the unnatural opening created by your weak muscles and becomes a visible bulge or sack, a hernia.
Excluding injury, all forms of hernia are generally the result of muscular weakness. It should be obvious, therefore, that surgery accomplishes nothing insofar as removal of the root causes is concerned; hence, the high rate of recurrence and “complications.” For example, it is not uncommon for a hernia to be surgically corrected on one side of the body and shortly thereafter another hernia appears on the opposite side.
In my book, Super Potency at Any Age (Plymouth Press), I described the correction of hernias through exercise. In this article, I am including a couple of representative exercises that should strengthen the necessary muscles. Remember, prevention is easier (and more sensible) than cure.
The common assumption that a hernia is the result of heavy lifting is false. Hernias seldom, if ever, develop in weight lifters. It is generally the man who sits in a chair all week and then tries to move a sofa on Sunday who acquires a hernia. If his internal muscles were firm and well toned, he could easily lift the sofa without acquiring a hernia or “rupture.” A hernia is not necessarily a rupture. It is usually a forced stretching of a natural opening, an excessive separation of muscular tissues. The real cause, therefore, is a weakness of muscles in the abdominal wall that permits the hernial sac to descend, usually resulting from a lack of proper exercise.
Inguinal and femoral hernias account for about 90 percent of all hernias. In direct medial inguinal hernia, the hernial sac protrudes through the abdominal wall in the area of Hesselbach’s triangle, a region bounded by the rectus abdominis muscle, inguinal ligament, and inferior epigastric vessels. A femoral hernia occurs in a similar but slightly lower position than an inguinal hernia. The same exercises benefit both conditions.
Before the exercises are started, the hernia must be reduced. This is best accomplished by lying on your back and gently coaxing the extruded mass back in to the abdominal vacuity through the unnatural opening. (Caution: Exercise should not be employed where a reduction is not obtainable.) When this is accomplished, it is best to perform all beginning exercises on a slant board with your head lower than your feet.
If you are accustomed to wearing a truss, remove it before you begin to exercise and replace it after your exercise period. As your abdominal muscles become stronger, your original truss may be replaced with one that exerts less pressure and on which the cushion has a flat, instead of a domed, surface. If your new truss fails to give adequate support, it may be necessary to go back to the old truss for part or most of the day. Nonetheless, it is advisable to begin using your new truss, even for short periods, as soon as possible.
Eventually, it should be possible for you to stand and walk around without pain or irritation to the hernia; and your truss can be left off for short periods each day, gradually extending the time as your body’s natural support returns to normal.
Don’t expect miracles overnight! Nature works slowly but does not make mistakes! Repairing and strengthening muscles is hard work and requires perseverance and concentrated, persistent effort. Nevertheless, doing difficult things is good for you. Difficult and impossible are not the same words! Doing things that are difficult strengthens your will power, self-discipline, and self-control. In other words, it also strengthens your mental muscles. And like any other muscles, the more you use them, the stronger they become.
But for those who will steadfastly adhere to the prescribed regimen, your reward may well be success. Good luck!
Here are a couple of exercises for you to try:
Lying on your back with head lower than feet on a slant board, slowly raise both legs about 14 inches from the board. Now spread your legs apart. If someone is available to help, have him or her give resistance while you are trying to spread your legs. (Variation: Try to raise your legs while your assistant tries pushing them down.)
Using the same slant board, lie on your back with your head lower than your feet. Hold your sides for support. Now raise your knees over your body and do cycling movements.
Note: Before beginning any program of exercise, consult your physician. Because individual metabolisms vary, not everyone can experience identical or optimal results.
Reprinted with the permission of Consumers Medical Journal, this article has been excerpted from Dr. Flatto’s new book, Miracle Exercises, which is available from Plymouth Press (P.O. Box No. 2044, Miami, Florida 33140).
Edwin Flatto is a retired doctor living in Florida and has been an NHF member since the 1950s. He is a graduate of the University of Miami and the Escuela Homeopatic de Allos Estudios de Guadalajara (Medico Homeopatico). Over the years Ed has written 16 books on health.