Can Physical Therapy Help After Abdominal Surgery?

Abdominal Surgery Recovery

Post-Surgical Care

If you have had an abdominal surgery recently for any reason, it’s imperative that you practice physical therapy. For any abdominal surgery patients, post-surgical care would involve wearing a post-surgery abdominal binder and physical exercises. These are essential for a smoother recovery and proper rehabilitation.

In the following article, let’s see how physical therapy can help after abdominal surgery:

The Importance of Physical Therapy after Abdominal Surgery

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery after abdominal surgery. Failing to do this can result in a hernia and several other medical problems. Your abdominal muscles will be weakened by the abdominal surgery as the incision walks through the muscles and fascia (connective tissues). It will also negatively impact your posture, as well as balance.

Along with the pain from your wound, the general anesthetic you have had will affect your lungs. This makes taking deep breaths and coughing hard. It means that dense mucus can accumulate in your lungs. To curb these effects and to help with smoother recovery, physical therapy is crucial.

If you normally suffer from respiratory (or breathing) problems or if your surgery involves a large incision cut, a physiotherapist will attend you after the operation. However, everyone will not be attended by the physiotherapist. So, in the following guide, we will tell you some easy exercises you can do yourself to aid you in smoother recovery after surgery.

However, your physician will make the final call on what type of abdominal binder you should use, when you are ready for exercises, and what kind of exercises you need to do. So, consult with him/her to get a clear picture.

Exercises to Help Your Lungs Recover

As mentioned above, the general anesthetic would have affected your lungs, which will make room for the mucus to get collected. After the abdominal surgery, deep breathing, coughing, as well as moving are important to clear any mucus that has accumulated and to prevent any chest infection.[1]

However, it’s vital that you are comfortable to take deep breathes, cough, and/or move. Let’s take a look at the exercises to help your lungs recover:

Deep Breathing Exercises

To do this:

  • Relax your shoulders and your upper chest
  • Take a slow, take a deep breath in using your nose so as to fill up the bottom of the lungs
  • Hold for a few seconds
  • Breathe out using your mouth
  • Repeat this 5 times for each hour


To do this:

  • Take a deep breath in
  • Breathe out rapidly and forcefully using your mouth

Coughing Exercise for Abdominal


Coughing is the ideal way to clear out the mucus from the lungs. Do this more often in the initial days following your abdominal surgery. You can make use of a rolled-up towel or a pillow in order to put some pressure or support over the wound so as to make coughing more comfortable.

Exercises to Get Out of Bed

Getting out of bed is one of the best things to do to help your recovery. Not only this will help prevent a chest infection, but also it will help the gut to begin functioning and retain your circulation.

Your physiotherapist will help you with this until you are able to do it by yourself. After your abdominal surgery, you are advised to sit out of bed for at least 6 to 8 hours per day, with regular walking sessions and rest in between. While you may feel some weakness and tiredness in the initial days, it’s important that you keep trying and do a little extra every passing each  day.

To get out of bed, you must bend both your knees and roll onto the side by moving the shoulders and knees at the same time. While lowering your feet to the ground, you must use the arms to push yourself into the seated position on the sides of your bed.[2]

Recovery from Abdominal Surgery

Exercises to Enhance Circulation

There are some exercises to do to help enhance the circulation in the legs while you recover. After an abdominal surgery, you can’t be quite as normal as before  for at least a few days. During this period, you need to try alternate ways to enhance the circulation.

See what you can do below:

  • Ankles: Bend and stretch your ankles up and down rapidly and firmly. Do at least 10 reps.
  • Knees: While lying down in your bed, pull up the toes towards you. Now, push the back of the knee down into your bed. Hold in this position for 5 seconds and then relax. Do 5 reps on each leg. Alternately, you can sit down in the chair and straighten the knee out in a forward direction. Hold in this position for 5 seconds and relax. Do 5 reps on each leg.
  • Butt: Tighten your butt regularly in order to relieve pressure from the bottom.
Abdominal Exercise

Abdominal Exercises to Try

Try all the below exercises by lying with the head on your pillow. Have your knees bent and feet flat on the bed.

  • Abdominal Exercise: Place the hands on your stomach and inhale through your nose and as you exhale, slowly pull the stomach away from your hands towards the back. Now, you will feel the muscles tighten. Hold in this position for the count of three and relax.
  • Pelvic Tilting: Keep your hands in the hollow of the back and tighten your stomach muscles as mentioned in the previous exercise. Now, flatten the lower back onto the hands and tilt the bottom. Take normal breaths and hold in this position for 3 seconds and release.
  • Knee Rolling: For this again, you must tighten your stomach muscles as mentioned above and slowly lower your knees to one side. Restore them to the middle and relax. Repeat it on the other side.

Final Pointers

While it’s important that you do the above-mentioned physical therapy to help you recover after an abdominal surgery, it’s equally important to take care of your posture and prevent back pain. Watch out for your sitting and standing positions.

Also, before you go home, you must discuss with your healthcare provider and physiotherapist regarding the need for continued pain relieving exercises to do at home.











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