You might be anxious to get back to activity after abdominal surgery, but it's important you heal first. 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. Attempting to do situps or crunches for your abs after abdominal surgery may pull apart the stitches or staples holding the incision together, requiring additional surgery.
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Exercise After Abdominal Surgery
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 as they contract to help you stay upright, increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the wound and help accelerate the healing process. Add a few minutes to your walk each day to begin to build endurance.
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.
Read more: Exercises After Abdominal Surgery
Consider Gentle Yoga
After your leave the hospital, start doing isometric exercises — if your doctor approves. These exercises gently begin to heal abdominal muscles after surgery.
- 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 nonyoga 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.
Read more: Foods That Promote Healing After Surgery
Add Some Resistance
As you regain your strength, ask your doctor if you can begin more strenuous exercises with an exercise ball or resistance bands to further strengthen your abs after abdominal surgery. 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. Be sure to keep your lower back flat against the ground to maintain proper form. These exercises will restore your muscles and build an abdominal girdle, giving you a naturally flat stomach.
If you feel faint or dizzy while walking in the hospital, let your nurse or doctor know immediately.
- American Council on Exercise: Ace Certified News: What to Expect When Training Postpartum Clients
- Mayo Clinic: Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength?
- ShapeFit: Abdominal Crunches – Abs Exercise Guide With Photos
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Inguinal Hernia
- Yoga Journal: Poses: Abdomen
- HysterSisters: Exercise - Abdominal Post-Op Fitness
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.