You can get a hernia from straining too hard on the toilet, make sure your friends keep eating fiber.
And yeah, squats, and any lifts that utilize your core can cause a hernia.
In a lot of cases hernias are caused by wear and tear of a pre existing ‘dent’ in the ab wall. It may not even matter how strong your abs are. In fact, ab work may make this worse. This dent is likely to be congenital, so if and when it tears, there’s not much you can do about it except having the surgery.
I suggest you do your research on google to get yourself informed.
You seem to know what you’re talking about… I had a right inguinal hernia was I was 17 (I’m now 40) and had it repaired at the time. They didn’t have the “mesh” technology back then, just sewed it up. So, seems like a recurrence would have been likely, and sure enough when I was 38 (2 years ago) it showed up again. Same hernia, same location. Just ripped through the original repair, I guess…
What’s interesting is that I was experimenting with some weight-lifting at the time and this may have been a factor. But also notable is that I’d actually been in the emergency room a couple or a few times during the year or two prior with extreme abdominal cramps. Turned out I was getting constipated to the point of bowel obstruction. Very serious!! Now I take a fiber supplement every day and really watch it… Maybe take a laxative once a month if needed… Just gotta keep things moving!
You also mention the hernia thing being “congenital”. This really seems to be true, based on my research and my experience. In my case, I’m an identical twin, which means that I was essentially a “preemie” at birth (5.5 pounds; my twin was only 4.5). I think the groin muscles are the last to “get sewn together” in the womb, so I wonder if my groin just was naturally weak (i.e., underdeveloped) at birth…
A little scary: I just started the Rippetoe program about a week ago, which includes squats, deadlifts and bent-over rows. I’ve never done any of these before, and one reason is that I’ve been nervous about the hernia. However, I did get the mesh repair two years ago, so I SHOULD be safe, as long as I keep my weights reasonable and really pay attention to form, etc. I’m also constantly conscientious about my groin: Any sign of pain at all and I back way off… Hopefully, everything will be cool…
But the main point is: Hernias may be sort of “built in” to a person’s system and hence a little on the inevitable side for those of us who are born with a weak spot… Weightlifting, constipation, a random coughing fit, or just a nasty sneeze might be all it takes to pop the little guy out!