If you have just had surgery to repair a hernia, you may be wondering when you can start exercising again. You also may be curious about exactly what types of exercises you can do that will be safe. Should you do something aerobic? Can you lift weights? What types of abdominal exercises, if any, are safe?
Different types of hernias are repaired differently. Some are done laparoscopically while others require an incision that takes a longer period of time to heal. Doctors often recommend that you avoid any activities that stretch or pull the abdominal muscle for two weeks after a hernia operation. Then in the two- to three-week period following surgery, you can start conditioning and resistance exercises. In week four, you can begin abdominal-strengthening exercises and walking. Usually, if you have had a laparoscopic procedure, you can participate in non-contact sports six to eight weeks after surgery and contact sports eight to 10 weeks after surgery. But if you had an abdominal incision, you will have to wait six to eight weeks to do any non-contact sports and eight to 10 weeks before you play any contact sports. If you are a runner, start out slowly by walking. Then alternate between walking and jogging, proceeding gradually and increasing your speed and distance by about 10 per cent each time you work out. Also, if you happen to be a golfer, make sure you check with your doctor to see if you can handle the rotational movement involved in swinging a golf club.
To be on the safe side, you may want to wait a couple of months before doing any abdominal exercises unless your doctor has told you otherwise. Hernia repair often leaves one or two weak areas in the abdomen, and so you have to be careful about what types of exercises you do.
To strengthen your abs, you can do some abdominal curls on a firm surface. Do them with your knees raised to minimise the likelihood that you will use your hip flexors rather than your ab muscles. Start slowly by just trying to reduce the pressure on your shoulder blades without moving your body. Do not join your hands behind your head because that puts extra stress on your neck. Instead, just keep your arms on the floor. Also, breathe out as you curl up rather than holding your breath. See if you can do 15 repetitions during which you take the pressure off your shoulders for a couple of seconds. Start with one set and gradually increase to three sets over the course of a couple of weeks, making sure to rest every other day in order to avoid overtraining. Gradually move on to lifting the shoulder blades two to three inches off the floor, doing three sets of 15 reps. If it hurts at any time, you should stop immediately; and if you are sore before your next training session, then reduce your reps until you fully recover. Your ultimate goal will be to raise your torso to a 45-degree angle and then as far as you are able--never rushing the process.
Another ab exercise you might want to try involves lying on your back with your head below your feet. From there, slowly raise both legs about a foot. Then spread your legs apart, using resistance if possible. You also can try to raise your legs while someone tries pushing them down. Another good ab exercise requires you to lie on your back and do cycling movements with your legs.