Do Hiatal Hernias Increase in Size with Weightlifting?

Do Hiatal Hernias Increase in Size with Weightlifting?

Ron from Houston sent us this question: ” I was diagnosed with Barret’s Esophagus and a small hiatus hernia 2 years ago during an endoscopy as I had excessive burping.
However even after that I avoided certain foods but still continued to lift weight like max 60 kgs cable biceps curl, leg presses for around 200 lbs, and sometimes chest press of 80 lbs…Is it possible my hiatal hernia has grown overtime? How likely would my hernia be grown?

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your question. Hiatal hernias tend to grow with time especially in the setting of uncontrolled acid reflux. The fact that you have Barrett’s esophagus indicate severe acid reflux disease irrespective of initial hiatal hernia size diagnosed with upper endoscopy. Heavy weight lifting is associated with increased intra-abdominal pressure. An increase in abdominal pressure stresses any abdominal wall hernia as well as hiatal hernias.

There are no studies addressing the long-term impact of weight lifting on hiatal hernia growth. Few studies raise the concern of weightlifting as a cause of hiatal hernia development. However, it is common sense to avoid heavy weight lifting when one is diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. Most importantly, it is crucial to control acid reflux to prevent disease progression and hiatal hernia growth.

The best solution for stage 4 acid reflux is hiatal hernia repair and Nissen funduplication. Properly performed Nissen fundoplication reliably, effectively and safely stops acid reflux. Furthermore, Nissen fundoplication prevents the progression of Barrett’s esophagus to cancer.