Activity restrictions after hernia surgery

First week

Rest

First Month

No exertion

After one month

No restrictions

The purpose of restricting activity during your recovery from hernia surgery is to maximize comfort, minimize complications and ensure optimal long term results. We advise different levels of activity restriction during the first week and during the first month.

During the first week rest at home, do not work and do not drive. You do not need to remain in bed but do not walk more than is necessary to take care of your basic needs: going to the dinner table, using the restroom and finding the clicker for the TV. Have someone else take care of basic chores such as making the bed or taking out the trash. You may feel well enough to do these things but it is better if you rest. Do not drive a car in the first week because early in your recovery you are an impaired driver. Your reflexes are slower and your ability to judge speed and distance are not 100% and therefore you are a danger to yourself and others on the road.

After one week if you are no longer taking pain medications you may drive. You may walk as much as you find comfortable and you may resume light duty work. This means do not lift more than 20 lbs. Do not go to the gym. Do not jog or use the stair master. And do not otherwise exert yourself. Sex is permissible after two weeks but let your partner do most of the work and do not traumatize the wound.

After four to six weeks you may resume normal activity without restriction. Your surgeon will tell you if it is 4 or 6 for you as an individual. When resuming a strenuous work out routine it is advisable to start slow and easy and work your way cautiously back up to your normal strain over the next month.

We do not advise ever doing abdominal crunches after hernia surgery, even when fully recovered. There is a common misconception by patients that strengthening the abdominal muscles will help to prevent a future hernia. This is not true. The abdominal muscles have nothing to do with hernias. Hernias develop because there is a weakness in the abdominal fascia. Fascia is the dense sinew that encases muscle and attaches muscle to bone. It is rich is collagen which metaphorically is the molecular fiber that weaves into the fabric which holds the body together. Exercise does not strengthen fascia but may weaken it.

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