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The fastest way to get a hernia in the gym is to perform the one armed dumbbell row with your knee up on a bench. In this video, I’m going to explain to you why this is the case and more importantly, what you can do to fix that once and for all. I will discuss the anatomy of the groin and why men are much more likely to incur an inguinal hernia than women when working out in the gym.
It starts with a bit of a discussion about the anatomy. When we are young, the testicles descend into the scrotum through the inguinal canal. In most cases, this canal closes off once this has occurred. In some cases however, the canal never closes off and you are left with a hole through the tissues in the lower abdominal region that compromises the integrity of the area moving forward.
Even if this closes properly, you still have the duct for the spermatic cord which passes through down into the testicles that creates a hole or compromise in the abdominal wall muscles that you cannot avoid. The stronger your adjacent muscles are in your abdomen, the more tension is applied to this area around the hole that is already present for the cord. This can lead to a high incidence of additional herniation and breakdown.
Many people think that the main cause of this is lifting heavy weights on exercises that typically would cause you to strain like the squat, bench press or deadlift. This is not the case. In fact, it is more so the positioning of the lower extremities during the lift that makes the one armed row a bigger culprit when it comes to causing hernia and inguinal hernias specifically.
Because of the way the exercise is normally performed (with one knee up on a bench and the other leg on the ground) you are asymmetrically loading the pelvis and creating a torque on it. The heavier the weight you attempt to lift from this position, the more torque is applied to the pelvis and the work must be done by the muscles of the core to stabilize and control the descent of the weight. As you pull from the lowest position of the lift, your pelvic muscles are in their weakest and most vulnerable state.
Add to the fact that you are likely placing an additional tensile stretch on this region by partially squatting down during the rep to gain a little bit more momentum and it makes this worse. The key is not to keep your knee up on the bench but rather keep both feet on the floor at all times. All that is needed is to straddle the bench rather than lean on it. With both feet on the ground you are not only more athletic instantly but you have applied ground reaction forces through the legs on both sides. This acts to stabilize the pelvis more and decrease the amount of torque applied to it tremendously.
Perform all reps of the one armed row on one side and then move onto the other side. Be sure of course to keep all other elements of proper row form in place like keeping a flat back, chest out and pulling your arm into extension on every rep rather than rotating to ensure maximal activation of the lats.
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