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Abdominal Exercise Following Abdominal Hernia Repair

author image Judy Bruen
Judy Bruen is a private certified personal trainer and wellness coach. She holds dual master's degrees from Boston College in clinical social work and pastoral ministry. She currently works with individuals on fitness, health and lifestyle goals.
Abdominal Exercise Following Abdominal Hernia Repair
Rest after hernia surgery.

Made it through hernia surgery and want to get back to your regular activities and fitness level? Returning to exercise depends upon the type of surgery that you went through and your body's response to it. Start off slowly, and work yourself through stages of abdominal strengthening to ensure that you don't hurt your abdomen or the tissues that are healing around it.

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Hernias occur when soft tissue, typically part of the small intestine, push through the abdomen's muscular walls. Hernias vary in size, pain and treatment. Hernias that do not recover with rest and physical therapy require surgical intervention. If you feel pain or discomfort in the groin or lower abdominal area or see a bulge in the same area, you should contact your doctor for a medical evaluation.


There are two types of surgical procedures for hernias. During a hernioplasty, a surgeon places a mesh covering over the herniated area. During a herniorrhaphy, the surgeon pushes the herniated area back into the abdomen and sews the broken muscle back together. Recovery is quicker after a hernioplasty, and patients return to normal activities after a few days of rest. Patients who undergo an herniorrhaphy typically need to rest 4 to 6 weeks after surgery before returning to normal activity.

When to Do Abs Exercise

After surgery, it is important that patients rest before starting an abdominal routine. Hernia surgery disrupts the abdominal tissues and muscles; rest ensures that these tissues heal and that the repairs are not disrupted or torn because of exercise. Patients should wait until they experience no pain or discomfort during movement before starting an abs routine. Consult a doctor or physical therapist after the operation to ensure that an abs routine does good, rather than harm.

Abs Exercises

After proper rest, patients should strengthen their rectus abdominus, the abdominal muscle that runs straight down the stomach. Initially, you should lie on a mat and work on strengthening the muscle without applying pressure on it. After lifting your knees in the air, very slowly lift your shoulders off the mat. If the movement is pain-free, hold for a few seconds before lowering your shoulders and repeating the exercise. All abdominal exercises should be followed by a day of rest to allow the muscles to heal and repair themselves.

After successfully doing the abs exercises pain-free for a few sessions, lift your shoulders higher, crunching farther toward your knees. The final progression involves a 45-degree crunch. Once these exercises have been done successfully and without aggravation and after receiving clearance from a doctor, you can move on to normal abs exercises.


Never hold your breath while doing abdominal exercises; holding breath can place internal pressure on the abdomen and injure the recovering area. You should consult with a doctor before starting a postoperation abdominal exercise routine.

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