Abs exercises for a hernia require great care. Hernias occur when soft tissue pokes out between muscles. Firm abdominal muscles keep abdominal contents in their correct place, but a weakness in the muscles can allow a hernia to develop from strain. Strengthening your abs can prevent or contain a hernia, but too much intra-abdominal pressure from ab exercises can make a hernia worse.
Slant Board Leg Scissors
The slant board leg scissors exercises use a piece of exercise equipment that allows your head to be kept below your legs during exercise, as recommended by Edwin Flatto, M.D., in Health Freedom News. A slant board is also called an incline bench, decline bench, sit-up board or crunch board. Lie face-up on the board with your head on the end toward the floor. Squeeze your abs and grab the sides of the board. Then, lift your legs toward the ceiling about one foot up. Open your legs wide and then close them, like the blades of a pair of scissors. Have a workout buddy stand at the top of the board and place her hands on the outside of your ankles and push gently as you open your legs for extra resistance.
Slant Board Cycling
Cycling your legs while lying on a slant board is another way to strengthen your abs. Because your leg bones don't attach to your abdominal muscles, you're not using your abs to move your legs. You do, however, use your abs to stabilize your body on the board while your legs are moving. Lie face-up on the board with your head near the bottom. Grasp the sides of the slant board for balance. Bend your knees and raise them so they're above your stomach. Squeeze your abs and press your lower back into the board. Then "pedal" your legs by alternatively straightening one and bending the other.
A mini crunch is a very small crunch that can strengthen your abs without making your hernia worse. Exhale as you lift your body to empty your body of air so the pressure in your abdomen doesn't increase. Lie face-up on the floor with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Slowly lift your head and the top of your upper back off the floor, but keep your shoulder blades just touching the floor. Return to the floor.