Exercise is an important component of the healing process post-surgery. It improves muscle tone and increases blood flow to the area, facilitating healing. Abdominal surgery is no different. When your muscles are severed, you have weakness and loss of tone. Once your doctor gives you the green light, you can choose from several abdominal exercises that you can perform post-surgery to restore strength and balance to your abdomen.
Walking is a great way to begin your exercise program post-surgery. The American Council on Exercise says walking as soon as possible after surgery helps minimize muscle wasting, increases circulation and speeds healing. Begin with short, easy walks and progressively increase the time as your strength and energy levels return.
Deep breathing is a gentle way to stretch and strengthen your abdominal muscles. This exercise can be performed while sitting, standing and even lying in bed. Take a deep breath in, allowing your abdomen to expand outward. As you exhale, pull in your abdomen by contracting your muscles. Repeat the exercise several times throughout the day, breathing as deeply as possible each time.
This exercise is slightly more advanced than deep breathing and can further improve abdominal strength post-surgery. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, then pull your belly button inward by contracting your abdominal muscles. Hold the contraction for five seconds, then relax. Repeat the compression five to 10 times several times throughout the day. As your muscles become stronger, hold the contraction for a longer time.
The pelvic tilt is a more advanced exercise to perform post-surgery but strengthens your abdominal muscles in a gentle manner. Lie face-up on your bed or on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place a pillow under your head and relax your arms along your sides. Inhale, contract your abdominal muscles and press your lower back into the floor so that your pelvis tips upward. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds while continuing to breathe. Relax your muscles, then repeat the exercise five to 10 times.
- "American Council on Exercise Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness": Lenita Anthony; 2002
- Cancernet: Exercise After Abdominal Surgery
- California Pacific Medical Center: Abdominal Surgery