In this post: Once your doctor clears you to exercise after umbilical hernia surgery, you need to rebuild your core strength. Use these 5 easy, core-strengthening exercises to get back to feeling like your old, pre-surgical self.

When your doctor clears you to resume regular activity, it’s tempting to try to start exactly where you left off before you had to take a break for surgery. Trust me, I know.

As soon as my doctor cleared me and told me I was ready to get back to my old self, I was pumped. First, I was going to pick up my baby (who was beyond the 10 pound weight limit). Then, I was going to pick up my much heavier toddler.

After all the lifts and hugs and kisses on my boys, I was going to get back to working out. However, when I tried to jump back into my old routine, I was greeted with failure.

Even my beginner-level Pilates routines were too challenging for me.

It was depressing, and I started to slip into an I-can’t-do-this funk.

Then, my low back started hurting. I felt like I was on a very slippery downhill slope, and I needed to do something to get myself out of this mess–fast!

I researched and tried tons of exercises until I found the very best. Keep reading to find out what I learned about exercise after umbilical hernia surgery.

Do you want to learn more about umbilical hernias? Download your FREE copy of “The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair.”

When Can I Resume Regular Activities After Umbilical Hernia Repair Surgery?

You absolutely should only resume regular activities and lifting when you have been cleared by your doctor. If you resume your pre-surgery activities before you’ve been checked by your doctor, you run the risk of ripping your repair.

This would, of course, mean a second umbilical hernia repair procedure. And, depending on the procedure you had this first time, a second repair might be more difficult for your surgeon to successfully perform.

So, do yourself a favor and follow your doctor’s instructions so you don’t risk ripping your umbilical hernia repair.

Related reading: If you’ve either just had your umbilical hernia repaired or are getting ready for surgery, check out “What You Need To Know About Surviving the Days Right After Umbilical Hernia Surgery.”

You’ve Been Cleared by the Doctor. Now What?

Now that you have been cleared by the doctor, it might be tempting to return to your pre-surgery activities. However, before you jump back into your old activities, you want to take a little time to re-strengthen your core.

After all, you did have a hole in your abdominal wall surgically repaired. So, it stands to reason that your core muscles might not be quite as strong and effective as they were before your injury.

That’s why you should take some time right now and focus on rebuilding your core strength.

What Is Core Strength?

Core strength is a term that people use to describe how several muscle groups work together to move and stabilize your spine and pelvis. It’s essential for these muscles to be balanced so you can be active without back or hip pain.

Although the abdominals are the most notable core muscles, they are not the only ones. In addition to your abdominals, your core includes:

So, when you start to strengthen your body after surgery, you want to make sure to mindfully work all of those areas.

The 5 Best Post-Surgical, Core-Strengthening Exercises


Even if you had a strong core before the incident that caused your umbilical hernia, you still need to take the time now (once you are cleared by your doctor) to rebuild your core strength.

As you complete these exercises, take your time and move mindfully. The whole key is to work smarter, not harder.

This is definitely one of those cases where the number of reps is not as important as the quality of your body’s movement.

Click the links below to learn how to get the most benefit from these effective, easy, and therapeutic exercises:

  1. Breathing. I recommend ujjayi breathing, a type of breathing used in yoga.
  2. Imprint. This simple exercise is a great way to strengthen your abdominals and relieve low back pain.
  3. Leg slides. As you mindfully move your legs, you challenge the strength of your abdominals even more.
  4. Sunbird. This classic yoga pose lets you challenge your spinal muscles without putting pressure on your belly. Plus, you get bonus work in your abdominals, adductors, and gluteus maximus. Winner winner!
  5. Hip rolls. When you perform this classic Pilates exercise, you strengthen your abdominals, gluteus maximus, and adductors.

I Can Do Those–Now What Do I Do?

Once you are able to easily accomplish those five exercises, you are ready to intensify your core strengthening. I recommend attending a local Pilates or yoga class with a certified instructor.

Both practices will be filled with exercises to help you finish building the core strength you need before you fully resume your favorite activities. Even if your favorite activity is watching movies, you still want to do your best now to strengthen your core muscles.

When you work on strengthening your core muscles when they are at their weakest, you can teach your muscles how to work together correctly. Plus, you greatly decrease the risk of low back and hip pain and injury in your future.

Hang in There and Keep Doing Your Exercises

I know. You don’t want to take the time right now to work on building your core strength. You want to get back to doing whatever activities bring you joy.

However, if you give yourself a few extra weeks of core-strengthening time, you are much less likely to injure yourself in the future.

Although it can be daunting, this post-surgical core-strengthening period is really a wonderful opportunity for your body.

Any time you get to start from the beginning, you have the opportunity to mindfully instruct your body how you want it to move. When this happens, you control how and when your muscles work.

Basically, you have the power to ditch some of your old, bad postural habits and adopt new ones to keep you feeling great and living a pain-free life. So, take the extra time–it’s worth it, I promise–and build core strength before you jump back in to your preferred activities.

Do you still want more information about umbilical hernias? Download my FREE guide, “The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair” now!

What’s your favorite core-strengthening exercise after umbilical hernia surgery? Let us know in the comments below.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.