Pilates after hernia repair offers a crucial piece of the exercise puzzle - pelvic floor and deep abdominal support!
Lately I have received several requests for exercise suggestions to help either repair small existing inguinal hernias, or assist in maintaining a hernia repair after surgery.
First of all, what is a hernia?
According to the NIH,
A hernia is a sac formed by the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). The sac comes through a hole or weak area in the strong layer of the belly wall that surrounds the muscle. This layer is called the fascia.
Basically, a hernia is an area where the intestines start to protrude through a weak area in the abdominal wall. Hernias are named for location (inguinal - groin, umbilical - belly button, hiatal - upper abdomen, femoral - upper thigh).
Hernias are caused by straining while abdominal pressure is increased - it can happen on the toilet, opening a window, or even lifting weights and/or doing abdominal exercises incorrectly.
Yes, you read that correctly. Poorly executed exercise can cause hernias and make existing ones worse.
However, correctly done exercise can help heal a hernia, especially after repair.
Exercise recommendations for pilates after hernia repair are similar to those for diastasis recti.
Once you have been cleared by your physician to exercise, it is important to avoid straining while increasing abdominal pressure. This requires careful monitoring of breathing patterns while moving and exercising.
At the beginning you should avoid most traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches. You should also avoid overhead presses.
Focus on exercises that help engage your pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and deep abdominals.
Breathing correctly is the first challenge.
Listen to the first breathing exercise in my back pain video. This is the basis for moving correctly in any exercise.