You may be anxious to resume your activities after abdominal surgery, but it is important that you recover first. Your abdominal muscles must be rebuilt in order to recover from abdominal surgery, especially any that were torn during procedures like hysterectomy, cesarean section, or open hernia repair in order to gain access to the abdominal cavity.
Fortunately, we have some advice and six exercises you can perform at home to help your abdominal muscles recover from surgery.
Advantages of Abdominal Exercise
Exercise can help you recover from surgery, whether it was a hysterectomy, C-section, or hernia repair. These procedures often weaken abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor, leading to pain, urinary incontinence, and digestive issues. Back pain and poor posture are additional consequences of weak abdominal muscles.
After surgery, getting up and moving around can help you feel better if you experience muscle spasms. A controlled exercise routine can help you breathe better, increase blood flow to your lungs, and help your body recover from surgery without harming your wound or surgical area. Abdominal binders offer mild compression to the belly muscles as they heal, adding extra support. By limiting chest and abdominal growth, the binders are intended to reduce post-operative risks.
Tips to Remember
A few tips to remember before getting started on a new workout routine:
- Before starting a new exercise program, ask your surgeon, gastroenterologist, and/or general practitioner for approval.
- Avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking water (or sports drinks) prior to, during, and after a workout (this is crucial for those who have an ostomy or j-pouch).
- Start an exercise routine as part of an overall fitness plan that includes eating a well-balanced diet.
- If you miss a workout, don’t feel bad about it, but make a commitment to go to the next one.
- Be mindful of any physical limitations. For instance, playing contact sports right after surgery is probably not a good idea.
6 Abdominal Exercises After Surgery
Muscles in the pelvic floor and abdomen are the main targets of these exercises. Strengthening the abdominal and pelvic muscles helps reduce the risk of complications such as abdominal weakness or low back pain. You should keep performing these exercises three times per day to avoid stiffness and pain.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor
- Rock back to your starting position and repeat. Aim for 5 repetitions, 2-3 times a day in the first few weeks following surgery
- As you progress, allow your back to arch up a little more and tighten your abs more strongly as you push your back into the floor. progressively increase to 20 repetitions.
Variation: Bent knees while lying on your back. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor. Hold this posture for 15 to 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
- Legs flat on the ground or a bed as you lay down. Slowly begin to slide one heel toward your butt, keeping your heel on the floor or the bed. Your knee will begin to bend
- Continue to slide your heel and bend your knee until it becomes a little uncomfortable and you can feel a small amount of pressure inside your knee
- Hold on to this position for approximately 5 seconds. When your leg is straight on the floor or bed, slide your heel back down. Aim for 5 repetitions before switching to the opposite side
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms out to the sides. Keep your knees and ankles together and slowly let your knees begin to drop over to one side
- Roll your knees to the opposite side while carefully contracting your abs. Try to maintain a relaxed posture while looking up and keeping your shoulders down.
- In the first few weeks after surgery, try to perform 5 repetitions, ideally 2-3 times per day. As time goes on, you can increase the range, so your knees drop lower and build up to 20 repetitions
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Very gently tilt your pelvis backwards and tighten your pelvic floor muscles
- Vertebra by vertebra, slowly raise your butt off the bed or the floor. Lift your butt as high as you comfortably can
- Keeping your breath deep, maintain this posture for 5–10 seconds. Slowly lower your spine and pelvis back down
- Aim for 3-5 repetitions initially, building up to 10-15 repetitions in time and lifting higher as you continue to progress in your recovery
- Kneel on all fours on the bed or the floor, keeping your back straight
- Take a deep breath in while gently contracting the lower abdominal muscles without arching your back. Hold this position for 5 seconds and exhale slowly to relax the muscles
- Both of your feet should be on the floor or the bed as you lay on your back with your knees bent. Keeping your knees together, place your hand on each thigh
- By moving your hands along your thighs and towards your knees, you can raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Once you’ve reached a comfortable spot, hold this position for 3-5 seconds
- Return your head and shoulders to the ground slowly. Aim for 5 repetitions initially, building up to 10-15 repetitions in time and extending farther as you continue to progress in your recovery
Exercise for the abdominals after surgery To maximize your body’s response, try to mix up your routine and incorporate a variety of exercises to avoid monotony or stagnation. The use of yoga, Pilates, or ab workout videos may also be beneficial.