A hernia is an injury that occurs when an organ or fatty tissue pushes through the abdominal musculature. According to the Hernia Surgery Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the most common place for them to occur is the belly. Often, these need to be repaired through surgery.
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Read More: Abdominal Hernia Signs and Symptoms
If you have a hernia you will feel a bump in the affected area. You might have pain in the area of the hernia, nausea and even vomiting. See a medical professional if you suspect you have a hernia.
Recovery from a hernia will take time and care. There are exercises that you can do to help the recovery process and prevent hernias from happening. It's important to start small and then slowly increase the difficulty of the exercises.
How to Manage Recovery From a Hernia
Instead of traditional strength training exercises, Connor Ryan, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, has patients start with smaller, more delicate movements, like breathing exercises, which target the obliques at the sides of your waist and transverse abdominis deep inside the abdomen.
Doctor of Physical Therapy Matt Hutzel agrees that you shouldn't exert yourself too much if you are beginning your recovery from a hernia. Too much strain can increase intra-abdominal pressure which can worsen the hernia.
Like Ryan, Hutzel recommends beginning with easier movements. He recommends starting in a pool if you have access to one. His favorite exercise is underwater leg lifts with a flotation device, such as a noodle, under your arms.
Once you are more comfortable with simple breathing or aquatic exercises you can begin to incorporate more traditional ab exercises. According to Hutzel, you can start with posterior pelvic tilts with a bridge. When those are comfortable you can progress to planks, and remember to back off and see a doctor if you feel pain.
To work on breathing, start with a simple but powerful exercise: the 90/90 position breathing drill.
Lie on the floor on your back in front of a bench, couch or chair.
Put your feet up on the elevated surface and bend your knees. Scoot close enough to the object so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees.
Dig your heels down into the object and lift your butt off the ground a couple of inches. You should feel the muscle in the back of your thighs working to hold you up.
With your butt off the ground take a deep breath in through your nose; place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Blow out steadily through your mouth until you feel like there is no air in your lungs. Pause at the end of your exhale and count to three, then breathe in through your nose. Repeat for five total breaths, then relax.
Read More: Benefits of Deep Breathing
Posterior Pelvic Tilt Bridge
Also called the butt tuck, this exercise engages your obliques and lower rectus abdominis. It's a small, gentle movement, which means it's perfect for someone with a hernia.
Lie on your back with your feet planted on the ground and knees bent.
Put your thumbs on the bottom of your ribs. Put your four fingers on the top of your hip bones. Pull your thumb and fingers closer together by squeezing your abs, almost like a small crunch. Try to feel your lower back flatten out against the floor. This is a posterior pelvic tilt.
Hold your posterior pelvic tilt and press your butt into the air by driving your heels down into the ground and squeezing your glutes. Press your hips as high as you can while keeping your abs tight from the posterior pelvic tilt. Move slowly and with control.
Perform this exercise only when you can perform the first two comfortably.
Put a mat or other soft surface on the floor to protect your elbows.
Prop yourself up on your forearms with your elbows directly under your shoulders and fists clenched.
Straighten your legs and dig your toes into the ground.
Drop your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your ankles. Hold for 20 seconds or longer, as you progress.