Abdominal exercises with ostomy: Standing, sitting, and lying

Heather Campbell
 min read

Abdominal exercises with ostomy are possible.

Abdominal exercises with ostomy: Standing, sitting, and lyingSporting exercise requires good conditioning of all muscles. People with a stoma may have weak abdominal muscles. Overweight and elderly people are especially affected by slack abdominal muscles.

The abdomen must be strengthened after an ostomy as weak abdominal muscles increase the risk of rupture or prolapse. Standing, seated, or reclining exercises regularly carried out are indispensable for a strong abdominal wall, as is walking, swimming, or cycling.

Strong abdominal muscles are also indispensable in the demands of everyday life, such as for lifting or sporting activities. Strong abdominal and back muscles also reduce the risk of lower back pain when you have a stoma.

Read on to explore some engaging abdominal exercises if you have a stoma.

Abdominal exercises with ostomy: Introduction

Those who have received a stoma may tend to avoid the abdominal muscles. Undoubtedly it has become a weak spot, a place you want to protect.

Still, you can do sports with a stoma just fine. In fact, abdominal exercises are essential with a stoma! Don’t deprive your belly, but do the following exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles.

Anatomy of the abdominal wall

You can think of the abdominal wall as a corset that holds things firmly together. Those abs can only do that well if they are not too weak.

If you have weak abdominal muscles, that strength must come from somewhere else, such as your back. And because of the extra work on your back, you can develop lower back pain.

If you have a stoma, it, along with the surgical scars, will form a weak spot in the “corset” of muscles anyway. So your abdominal muscles need to be extra strong.

Different types of abdominal muscles

You can train those different types of abdominal muscles with varying exercises.

In addition, you should keep a close eye on which muscles you can put more strain on than others.

The stoma is usually applied to the straight abdominal muscles. This muscle mustn’t be put under too much pressure, causing, for example, pain around your stoma after exercise.

It is good to train precisely the oblique abdominal muscles to make the abdominal wall stronger.

Instructions for exercising abdominal muscles with a stoma

Strong and practiced abdominal muscles are vital. Exercising the abdominal muscles should be built up gradually. It is important during the exercises that you continue to breathe calmly. You should not apply force without continuing to breathe in and out collectedly.

It is precisely during the application of force that you must exhale calmly. This keeps the pressure on the abdominal wall from getting too high. In other words: You should exhale when you exert force and inhale when you relax.

Some guidelines for abdominal exercises with a stoma:

  • Do the exercises regularly (preferably a few times a week).
  • In addition to doing exercises, it is essential to get plenty of exercise by walking, cycling, or swimming.
  • Hold the exercise for 10 to 15 seconds at a time. Do each exercise in sets of three if possible.
  • When stretching, do not make any springy or bouncy movements.
  • Be sure to have the exercises below checked by a physical or exercise therapist in the beginning and contact your doctor if you have any symptoms.
  • Ensure a general warm up for all muscles before starting.
  • Make sure you feel some tension but definitely no pain!
  • Perform the exercises alternating left and right when applicable.

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How to avoid a bad posture? Tips

Untrained and weak abdominal and back muscles can give rise to poor posture and back pain. Poor posture can occur when the abdomen and lower back muscles are not balanced.

Not exercising enough for an extended period will sag or shorten muscles. This causes the pelvis to tilt, resulting in a hollow lower back. This can cause all kinds of symptoms in the long run.

With good posture, the back is straight, and the muscles in the lower back are balanced.

With poor posture, the back is hollow, the abdominal and gluteal muscles are slack, while the lower back muscle and hip flexors are shortened.

Abdominal muscle exercises with a stoma: Overview

What exercises are appropriate?

Making your abdominal wall stronger is done, for example, with the oblique crunch, but there are other exercises suitable as well.

And for strengthening the entire abdominal wall, there are many more than the familiar sit-ups and abdominal crunch.

All possible exercises are listed below.

Standing abdominal exercises for a stoma

  • Stand up and hold on to a table or chair rail. Standing on one leg, bend the knee of the other leg and push it back at an angle.
  • Stand up and tilt the pelvis back by tightening the gluteal muscles and pushing forward. You then form a slightly convex back. Keep the knees slightly bent.

Seated abdominal exercises for a stoma

  • Stretch the hip and then press it forward and down. Do not turn the hip outward, as the exercise will be of little use.
  • Sit in the front on an upright chair with the pelvis tilted back and the torso slightly backward. Alternately lift the left and right legs without using the hands. Variations: lift the leg higher; keep knees extended and lift two legs.
  • Sit in the front on an upright chair with the pelvis tilted back and the torso slightly backward. Alternately lift the left and right leg and apply counter pressure with the right hand on the knee being raised.
  • Sit on a straight chair at the front with the pelvis tilted back (by tensing the glutes to create a slightly convex back). Move slowly with your back to the backrest and back again without using your hands.
  • Sit in the front on an upright chair with the pelvis tilted back and the torso slightly backward. Raise both legs, twist to the left, and return them to the ground. Then raise the legs again, turn, and put them down on the right.
  • Sit in the front on an upright chair with the pelvis tilted back and the torso slightly backward. Lean the trunk slightly backward and then rotate the trunk alternately left and right. Beware: Do not have a hollow back during this exercise.
  • Sit backward on a straight chair with the pelvis tilted back. Place the hands on the backrest, and then press the arms down.

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Reclined abdominal exercises for a stoma

  • Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. First, press both heels into the ground and maintain this throughout the exercise. Now slowly come up with the head and shoulders until you can clearly see your knees.
  • Lie on your back, knees raised and hands behind the head. Now tap the right knee with the left elbow. The left shoulder and right leg come off the ground in the process. Then tap the left knee with the right elbow.
  • Lie on your back and place both arms approximately at shoulder height on one side of the body. This causes you to turn slightly on one side. In this pose, come up with the upper body. The shoulders free from the ground is far enough.
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent. Come up until your hands reach your knees. Emergence is as follows: you roll yourself up, so to speak. First the head and then the shoulders. Keep your back round.
  • Lie on your back and keep both legs bent and loose from the ground. While keeping the legs slightly bent in the air, try to get as far “up” as possible.
  • Lie down (preferably on a firm surface) and tilt the pelvis by tensing and pushing the gluteal muscles forward. You then form a slightly convex back so that your lower back also touches the surface you are lying on. Then pull up one or both legs at a time.

Abdominal exercises with ostomy: Conclusion

If you want to exercise after you get a stoma, your abdominal muscles are essential. Abdominal exercises with ostomy are possible either standing, sitting, and lying

But do allow your body the opportunity to recover after surgery. After all, your belly has been cut, and proper recovery takes some time.

Lifting and exerting force can be quite painful for the first 6 to 8 weeks. Don’t force anything because sports or exercise are entirely out of the question if you sustain an abdominal wall fracture.

And remember, have these exercises approved by your doctor or physical therapist before attempting them.

About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More