Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Exercise after hernia repair
This can be a huge concern for patients undergoing hernia surgery. For many people, exercise is a huge part of their life. Going to the gym, lifting weights, yoga, Pilates, golf, running, team sports. The idea of going two months without these can be a source of major anxiety. In reality you don’t need to take two months off, and can begin exercise early in the postoperative period. You may however have to delay your return to performing a full vinyasa or heavy deadlift!
Surgery for hernia can be painful. The muscles of the groin and abdominal wall are major muscle groups that are used in almost every movement of the human body. Sitting, standing, walking, bending even breathing are aided by your abdominal muscles. By operating on these muscles, they undergo trauma that needs to fully heal before they have the ability to do the functions that they did before the operation.
The general advice given by many after your hernia repair is ‘no heavy lifting for 6 weeks’. What does this actually mean though? One persons heavy lift is a 150kg bench press, whereas another person heavy lift is a shopping bag. This is the general advice that I give following a hernia repair:
· Week 1 – Try to move as much as possible. It is likely that you will be very sore, so regular painkillers may be required. Try to walk around the house or garden, and maybe consider a walk around the block. At the end of 7 days, you can probably start driving (although everyone is slightly different). If you are pain free and able to emergency stop, with a forceful turn of the steering wheel, then you can drive.
· Week 2 – The pain and soreness should have subsided by now, but you will feel very tight. I recommend increase your exercise, walking slightly longer distances. The general rule at this point is that if you do something that is causing pain, you are either doing too much or it’s too soon.
· Weeks 3-4 – You can increase your exercise. Gentle running, swimming or cycling can be commenced. Stretching, yoga or pilates can start, but with caution.
· Weeks 5-6 – You can start lifting weights, but light weights, and no explosive movements, as you build up your strength and flexibility.
· At 6 weeks, you should be fully healed, and can do whatever you want in terms of exercise. I always advise caution with expolsive movements (HIIT, using a driver in golf, boxing, etc). Treat your hernia like a muscle injury, where you gradually build up the explosive exercises, and you shouldn’t have too many problems.
I have been passionate about exercise throughout my life and have experience of many sports and fitness regimes. I have played competitive rugby, football, basketball cricket and hockey at various levels, have won medals for competitive skiing, I have spent a lot of time playing golf, surfing cycling and doing yoga as well as taking part in the latest HIIT craze. As a result, I have broad experience and knowledge of the specific movements required for many different activities. After your hernia repair, I can help you design a rehabilitation regime that is specifically targeted to getting you back to what you love doing.