Recovery from abdominal surgery will entail rebuilding your stomach muscles; especially any muscles that were cut to access the abdominal cavity during, for example, a hysterectomy, a cesarean section or an open hernia repair. Do not attempt any traditional abdominal exercises immediately after surgery. Give the incision time to heal. Attempting to do situps or crunches may pull apart the stitches or staples holding the incision together, requiring additional surgery.
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Start walking to the bathroom or down the hospital corridor as soon as a nurse or doctor tells you it is safe to get out of bed following abdominal surgery. Walking will strengthen your abdominal muscles, increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the wound and help accelerate the healing process.
Start by doing your initial workouts every other day -- when someone can be with you to ensure your safety. Working out every other day gives your abdominal muscles a chance to heal from the exercise and the surgery.
After your leave the hospital, start doing isometric exercises -- if your doctor approves. Try a yoga plank pose. Lie on the floor in a prone position. Lift your body off the floor with your arms and toes. Stretch from your heels to your shoulders, keeping your body in a straight line with your stomach contracted. Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Next do the four-limp staff pose. Starting from the plank pose position, lower your body a few inches until it is horizontal to the floor. Keep your stomach contracted, holding the pose for 30 seconds. Attempt a non-yoga isometric exercise by sitting in a sturdy chair with back support. Tighten your abdominal muscles as if preparing to take a punch. Press your fingers into your stomach as you tighten and hold your muscles for 15 seconds.
As you regain your strength, ask your doctor if you can begin more strenuous exercises with an exercise ball or resistance bands that isolate the abdominal muscles. Do crunches while reclining on an exercise ball. Do leg lifts, holding a resistance band wrapped around the arches of your feet to isolate and tone the muscles below your waistline.
Exercise and build your abdominal muscles with strength training, but only when your doctor says it is safe to do so. Perform situps, bicycles and flutter kicks while lying on the floor. These exercises will restore your muscles and build an abdominal girdle, giving you a naturally flat stomach.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Council on Exercise; Ace Certified News; Amanda Vogel, Chris Freytag; December 2009/January 2010
- Mayo Clinic; What Are Isometric Exercises, and Are They a Good Way to Build Strength?; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.; December 2009
- ShapeFit: Abs Exercises - Abdominal Crunches for Six Pack Abs
- University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics: The Value of Early Walking after Surgery
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Inguinal Hernia; December 2008
- “Sculpt Your Body with Balls and Bands: Shed Pounds and Get Firm in 12 Minutes a Day”; Denise Austin; 2004
- Yoga Journal: Poses: Abdomen
- HysterSisters: Exercise - Abdominal Post-Op Fitness