An umbilical hernia is caused by excess pressure at the abdomen, specifically near your navel. Excess pressure causes your intestines to bulge through a weakened abdominal wall, causing swelling and pain. You can use exercise to treat umbilical hernias, although some cases may require surgery. Consult your physician for your best option.
What Is It?
An umbilical hernia most commonly affects children, but in some cases, adults can develop this condition. When a fetus is in utero, the umbilical cord passes through the abdominal muscles. After birth, the cord is cut, and this opening in the abdominal wall muscles should close.
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In some cases, it might not heal fully, increasing the risk of umbilical hernia. Additional risk factors for umbilical hernia in adults include obesity, history of abdominal surgery, excess abdominal fluid or long-term kidney dialysis, according to Mayo Clinic. Multiple pregnancies can also leave you with a postpartum umbilical hernia.
Be patient. Hernias are a result of weakened abdominal muscles, and you need to give those muscles time to strengthen and thereby reduce the hernia.
Exercises for Umbilical Hernia
Exercises are an important part of umbilical hernia treatment without surgery. Yoga boat pose strengthens weak abdominal muscles surrounding a hernia.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Place your hands underneath your thighs and gently lift your legs toward your chest, keeping them straight. Hold for 10 seconds, and release, returning to starting position. This is referred to as the boat pose in yoga and works your core abdominal muscles. Perform daily for five to 10 repetitions.
Cycle Your Legs
Bicycling your legs in the air strengthens your lower abdominal muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on a slant board. Slant boards raise your feet higher than your head, taking away excess pressure as you exercise. On your slant board, you can do bicycle leg exercises by lifting your legs toward your chest. Pedal your legs while you hold your sides to stabilize yourself. Do these exercises at least three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes.
Stretch Your Middle
Abdominal muscle mobility and flexibility help reduce risk of hernia.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on the floor with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Turn your bent legs to your right until they touch the floor, keeping your back firmly on the ground. Hold for five to 10 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat on the left side. Perform this stretch daily. This stretches your abdominal muscles, making them more flexible and less likely to weaken with pressure.
Correct Your Breathing
Exercise correct breathing when performing any workout. Breathe from your abdomen instead of your chest. This lifts the diaphragm and releases excess abdominal pressure.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in through your nose and fill your abdomen with air. Your lower hand should rise as you breathe in, rather than the hand that is resting on your chest.
Exercise does not always mend a hernia. In some cases, surgery to push the hernia back in through the abdominal wall may be necessary. Always consult your doctor regarding your hernia before starting any exercise program to reduce it.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.