How to exercise after having an umbilical hernia repair

Updated April 17, 2017

According to Medline Plus, an umbilical hernia occurs when a portion of the abdominal organ(s) pushes through the lining of the abdominal wall, becoming visible as a small lump or pouch near the belly button. During surgery, the protrusion is reversed and the hole in the abdominal lining is closed, typically using a manmade type of surgical mesh. Patients need to take care to avoid accidentally reinjuring the area by exercising too soon after surgery.

Follow your physician's exact advice during the period immediately following surgery. According to, hernia surgery normally requires a four- to six-week recovery time, during which you may be assigned breathing and other exercises. Perform these exercises in full in order prepare for a complete return to regular exercise after the rehab period.

Return to your usual exercise slowly and gradually. Regardless of whether you preferred resistance or cardiovascular training, don't assume you can immediately resume your old level of performance. Begin at roughly 50 per cent of where you were before, and gradually work your way back up over several weeks. Proceed with extreme caution if you experience any pain in the umbilical region; stop and avoid any exercise or technique that increases the postsurgery pain.

Be aware when any exercise or activity increases intra-abdominal pressure, even after you feel you are fully recovered, as this is one of the possible causes of a hernia according to information from the medical journal "Archives of Surgery." Examples are maximal lifting (heavy bench pressing, squatting, or deadlifting) and full-out sprinting, or any other activity in which you fail to normalise your breathing patterns. Watch your breathing carefully during training even after you are back to 100 per cent. Inhale during lowering portions of weightlifting movements and exhale during lifting portions to minimise intra-abdominal pressure and reduce the risk of causing another hernia.

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About the Author

TS Jordan is an Ohio licensed attorney living and practicing out of the Cleveland area. In addition to his Juris Doctorate, he holds a Bachelors' Degree in Information Systems. He has been writing professionally for less than a year.