Exercise After Inguinal Hernia Surgery

The words inguinal hernia sounds quite typically heavy, but it’s quite common. More than 1 million cases of inguinal hernia, also known as groin hernia in India, are observed every year. So, let’s get a simple understanding of these two words altogether before discussing further.

Inguinal means the groin or lower lateral parts of the abdomen.

Hernia: Typically, hernia includes the stomach or intestines. It can be explained as the abnormal growing or extension of an organ protruding through the wall or some abnormal opening. This often involves the intestine at a weak point in the abdominal wall.

Some important points to be noted are:

  • Resolves within months. 
  • Self-diagnosable.
  • Easily treatable.
  • No imaging or lab tests are required.

How serious is a hernia?: The bulging of an organ is felt by sharp pains when some force is exerted like coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, bending over. Hernia is not necessarily dangerous.

However, it has to be treated by a medical professional or it can result in life threatening complications in future if left unattended or avoided.

Treatment and prevention:

  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Consuming high fibre diet
  • Lifting heavy objects carefully or totally avoiding it
  • Quit smoking

The only way to treat a hernia is surgery. Operating the protruding area goes successful. Many people try to treat it using belts but that may worsen the matter. The two main surgeries that can be performed to treat inguinal hernia are:

  1. Open repair surgery (Herniorrhaphy): In herniorrhaphy, the bulge in the abdominal tissues is corrected by returning the tissues back to the abdomen by making a single long incision.
  2. Laparoscopic surgery: In laparoscopic surgery, 2-3 small incisions are made around the groin area and a small camera is inserted in and through one of those incisions. Thereafter, the surgeons locate hernia and insert instruments to repair the same with the help of the camera. This surgery is preferred by those who want quick recovery, less scarring and no discomfort.

Well, now what people struggle to know is – is there any exercise recommended after hernia surgery? Or what are the exercises that can be performed after this surgery?

One has to be really careful and cautious with the exercises after hernia operation because the stitches are raw after the surgery and are under danger of being ripped. The repair can break down if the stitches give way in between. About 4-6 weeks’ time is required for the mesh to get integrated with the body. Thereafter, with time it gradually becomes more stable.

Therefore it is important to be careful in the first few weeks of the surgery. One can resort to daily routine activities after that recovery span.

Some specific exercises/activities to be avoided are as follows:

  • Lifting anything over the weight of 10 kgs
  • Abdominal crunches should be avoided for 6-8 weeks after surgery.
  • No swimming for 3 weeks to avoid strain and submersion of wound under water.
  • Avoid repetitive movements including bending, squatting, running, twisting, biking etc.

 Exercises that could be performed after hernia surgery:

  • Breathing exercises: 
  • Relax the shoulders and upper chest.
  • Take slow deep breath through your nose and fill the lungs fully.
  • Hold it for 3 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  • Permitted exercises are walking, tennis, hiking, golf.
  • At the gym:
  • Treadmill.
  • Elliptical.
  • Stair machines.
  • Machines that only work the arm or torso muscles.
  • Pelvic tilts: This a gentle exercise and can be performed after surgery. This is performed by laying your back on a yoga mat with knees bent and kneecaps pointing towards the ceiling. Contract belly muscles to to press the full length of the spine into the floor `without raising hips up. Then relax belly and let the spine curve lift off the floor. Six to eight times in 3-4 sets could be done.
  • Glute Bridge: From the same starting position as above, raise the pelvis gently towards the ceiling while keeping shoulders glued to the floor.
  • As advised by the physiotherapist: Lastly, all the exercises should be performed under the guidance of a medical professional to avoid any further complications and discomfort.

Know the causes and symptoms of hernia to avoid them

Among many risk factors that contribute to the development of hernia, some are as follows:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis (hereditary disorder that produces thick mucus)
  • Standing posture for long hours regularly
  • Premature birth
  • Prolonged or severe coughing
  • Strenuous weight lifting
  • A history of hernias
  • Excessive pressure in the abdominal area

Symptoms:

  • Burning sensation around groin area
  • Aching
  • Excessive pain while you cough, bend or exercise
  • Feeling a fullness in or around the groin area
  • Weakness or pressure in groin
  • Swelling of the scrotum area in men
  • Heavy sensation in groin
  • A bulge on either side of the pubic bone which is clearly visible in upright position

To conclude

Hernia is a common problem which is treatable and can easily be cured. After surgery, one should wait for the doctor’s approval for some heavy lifting exercises or any kind of vigorous activity which can exert pressure on the groin area till few initial weeks of surgery. 

Good body mechanics and postures should be taken care of while exercising after laparoscopic hernia repair. Walking and climbing stairs could help. Being anxious to get back to the previous routine is normal, but your physician’s suggestions and guidance is vital about any exercise as abdominals are involved in nearly every activity. 

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