I am diagnosed with Inguinal Hernia. I'm 21 years old, so the doctor said he cannot predict whether it's going to be a 'mesh' or a 'sewn-up' repair.

I am very interested in martial arts - especially for self-defense, flexibility, health cultivation and fitness aspects.

Given these parameters, what kind of martial art can I learn, if at all? I am very worried about the hernia, can I be confident like a normal person?

Update: I've had the surgery done (the doc used a mesh) and have been healing for four months now, it does feel great to not worry about the specter of a strangulated hernia anymore :) I am waiting for a bit before heading off to a martial arts class, for now just practicing some tai chi with videos at home. The pain has not yet completely gone away - I feel it when my stomach feels 'full' - or when I run for a bit. So I guess I will hold off martial arts for a while longer, will get a clearance from the surgeon before doing any! Thanks for all the answers people.

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    Be very careful; this is a site where the answers are mostly coming from martial artists. Even if one is a doctor we have no way of verifying. Any answers should contain the caveat: "Speak to your physician about your specific case." – stslavik Apr 1 '12 at 17:04
  • I will definitely make it a point to ask my physician for specific advice regarding this. However, he is not an experienced martial artist so I won't get that perspective. Thank you to all who have answered and given me that! – Aditya M P Apr 1 '12 at 17:35
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    About your update: it can take a number of months for that feeling to go away, you will be conscious of the mesh for some time. As an aside, the mesh repair has been linked with a lot of complications due to it being placed incorrectly - if you ever start to experience pain (rather than just totally minor discomfort) then follow up and go to the doctor. – slugster Nov 21 '12 at 8:46
  • Thank you! Sure, I will do that :) I do however pray no such thing ever happens! – Aditya M P Nov 22 '12 at 9:09

After surgery, there is a period of time you have to let your body heal. Your physician will schedule several follow-up visits to check on the progress of the healing. During that time, let your body heal. Martial arts can wait.

After that period of healing your physician will clear you for all normal activity. This means everything from general exercise and sports to martial arts. Discuss your intentions with your doctor, and ask if there is anything that would prevent you from resuming martial arts. Also discuss with your doctor what causes the hernia in the first place. You might be surprised at the cause.

As far as self defense goes, you may look into traditional jujitsu. When the techniques are formed properly, you really aren't using brute force to pull it off. That will minimize the risk of the injury reoccurring. Flexibility is never a bad idea, and you will likely have to actively work on hip and groin mobility once you are cleared for normal activity.

If all goes well with the surgery, you should be able to carry on normal life with full confidence.

  • Thank you so much! Very clear and confidence-inducing answer... :) – Aditya M P Apr 1 '12 at 0:10

Absolutely you can. I've had exactly the same thing (I believe I caused it by doing too much leg-pressing in the gym).

After the surgery it took about 6 weeks to fully recover - by this I mean I had no more tweaks and niggles from it. I recommenced training considerably sooner than that though. Just don't do anything that stresses the abs, or specifically the lower abs and hip flexor area for a while. This means you need to back off kicking for a while, and take it easy with any crunches/situps/leg raises that you do. Also be careful with anything that stretches that area (like the cobra stretch, longitudinal or side splits, or anything imparting rotational stretch), as scar tissue doesn't stretch readily so you will cause yourself some discomfort if you go too hard too soon.

Note: the stretching images were shamelessly "borrowed" for illustrative purposes from dance.about.com and health4ever.com.au, although it seems they've been ripped off in several other locations too. This borrowing was simply to avoid link rot hence this attribution.

  • Thanks for the answer slugster - so that means that once healed, I can stretch the area's tissue as usual, just not when it's still healing right? – Aditya M P Apr 1 '12 at 9:23
  • And thanks a lot for including your personal experience - that's very re-assuring! – Aditya M P Apr 1 '12 at 9:24
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    @aditya - that is correct - don't stretch that area too soon (it is reasonably invasive surgery, my scar is 8" long), and take it gently when you do start. To be clear, scar tissue can be stretched, it just isn't elastic like normal tissue. I'm going to tweak my answer to make that clearer. – slugster Apr 1 '12 at 11:10

I have been doing kyokushin for about 11 years and jiujitsu about 2 years, last year I went through inguinal hernia mesh repair, I was back to light training in a month. Now I train regularly, though you need to listen to your body and stop whenever you feel pain. The nerves around those areas are very sensitive and the mesh can aggravate its sensitivity.

I found static chi kung to be very soothing for this healing process. However, I strongly recommmend no-mesh hernia repair.

So yes, training is no problem.

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