Exercises for building strength after ostomy surgery

Ostomy surgery weakens the abdominal muscles. This is because the surgeon has to make an opening in the muscle. A piece of bowel is brought through the opening in the muscle, and used to make the stoma. Strong abdominal muscles help reduce the risk of a peristomal hernia.

After surgery

Right after surgery only gentle exercise is recommended. Walking and tai chi are good ways to rebuild your stamina. Always pace yourself, keeping in mind that your body is already using a lot of energy to heal inside.

Below you will find resources for exercises for after surgery. The online pamphlet from Dansac shows exercises that are safe for most people on pages 10-15. Always make sure you have received the “okay” from your surgeon or GP before you start to do any exercise.

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy & Continence (NSWOC) or the Physiotherapist in hospital. Nothing should hurt or be painful – if it is, stop. Remember to go slowly and be gentle with yourself.

Increasing abdominal muscle strength

About 3-6 months after surgery you can start to build abdominal muscle strength. Talk to your surgeon to make sure you are ready to increase your activity level. It is strongly advised that you work with a physiotherapist to make sure that you do the exercises in a way that will not increase your risk of developing a hernia.