Lifting heavy objects or lifting the wrong way can aggravate existing hernias. This is why affected individuals must take precautions when engaging in sports like indoor bowling, or receive treatment as soon as possible.
In bowling, there is frequent bending and lifting of balls up to 16 pounds. So, a reparative surgery called herniorrhaphy may be your best option before returning to the sport.
In this guide, we’ll talk about when it’s safe to bowl again after hernia treatment, the best treatment types, and when it’s safe to not get formal treatment. We will also discuss inguinal hernias, which are common in men and may affect bowlers.
Is Bowling Bad For You if You Have a Mild Inguinal Hernia?
Bowling is not an unhealthy activity itself. But it does put stress on parts of the body that hernias often affect, like the torso, back, and groin.
An inguinal hernia sits in the inner groin area. Like other hernias, this one is serious enough that you should avoid strenuous activities like bowling until you receive proper treatment. This type of hernia is common in men, who have sensitive groin areas.
In this case, intestine or bladder pushes into the inguinal (groin) canal by protruding through the abdominal wall. It can bulge into the groin, labia, or scrotum area. If you bowl too often or without using proper form, you could intensify this type of protrusion.
Luckily, there are treatment methods that can get you back to safe bowling relatively soon.
How Can I Treat an Inguinal Hernia?
As with most hernias, surgery is the most effective treatment for an inguinal hernia. There are a couple of surgery methods available. You can get open hernia repair surgery (groin incision), as well as laparoscopic hernia repair surgery (stomach incision).
Full recovery from inguinal hernia surgery takes up to 4 weeks post-op. So, you should not go bowling again until you’ve waited out your healing time.
What Precautions Can I Take?
You can still go bowling if you have a hernia in some cases. But you should get a doctor’s approval and be careful to choose lighter-weight bowling balls. You can also make sure to lift standing up, rather than bending your torso over.
Since our legs are generally stronger than our torso and back muscles, lifting correctly can reduce muscle strains.
If you choose to bowl before you receive treatment (surgery), you should consult a doctor to decide:
- how often you can bowl
- how much lifting you can do when bowling (appropriate bowling ball weight, etc.)
- symptoms to keep an eye on
What Symptoms Should I Monitor?
If your inguinal hernia is mild, then your doctor may decide that it is safe to go bowling. They may tell you to look out for certain symptoms that indicate you need treatment. These include:
- increased or intensifying pain
- hernia that doesn’t deflate when you lay down
- discolored bulge
When Can I Bowl Again After a Hernia?
While you can bowl safely with a hernia in some cases, the best-case scenario is to heal fully before you bowl again. With treatment, healing could take up to 3 months before it’s safe to bowl without worry again. Without treatment, your hernia may never go away or fully heal.
What Is the Standard Treatment for Hernia Recovery and How Long Does It Take?
If you take the fully healed route, you should know that a surgery called herniorrhaphy is the typical treatment to repair a hernia. Hernia surgery recovery time is usually around 3-4 weeks, with a 2-3 month restriction on heavy lifting.
So, if you want to bowl again after a herniorrhaphy, consider a healthy timeline of up to 3 months. It is crucial to follow this healing plan because hernias often make a resurgence post-op.
Herniorrhaphy is faster than other treatment methods that won’t fully heal the hernia. However, you can sometimes live with a hernia long-term and be careful not to aggravate it.
Note that it won’t go away on its own, though, unless it is an umbilical hernia. These are a different type of hernia that typically go away on their own within 4 years for babies.
Some adult individuals also use corsets, like this one, to bind a hernia’s bulge. However, this method is not fool-proof and should only happen with a doctor’s recommendation.
What Are the Risks of Bowling Again if I Don’t Get Hernia Surgery?
There are rare yet serious risks to opting out of a hernia surgery. These include infections, intestinal perforations, and in some cases, death. Further, these risks only increase if you aggravate the hernia.
Activities like heavy lifting and bending involved in bowling can aggravate the ailment and lead to intensified pain or worse. You run the risk of the hernia growing larger, as well as cutting off blood supply to the organ affected by the hernia.
This is a serious risk that can lead to a fatal outcome. If you don’t get surgery and decide to instead keep bowling, you should consult a doctor before doing so. There are only certain instances where doctors advise patients to not get surgery, including:
- Asymptomatic hernias or hernias with few symptoms
- Non-painful hernias
- Non-bulging hernias
- Hernias in patients who can’t undergo surgery due to co-existing conditions or interfering medications
Hernias – fatty tissue pushed through weak muscle (fascia) – can worsen if aggravated by heavy lifting and repeated bending. Therefore, bowlers must decide which is the safer option for them personally. Some can take precautions and keep bowling. Others are better off to go ahead and receive surgical treatment to remove the hernia.
If your doctor thinks your hernia is mild enough, then they may put off treatment and approve you to bowl if you take precautions.
Otherwise, note that hernia surgery is the best and safest treatment, even for inguinal hernias. Further, most procedures can have you back to normal activity (including bowling) within as little as 4 weeks and at most 3 months.