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A Guide to Physical Therapy After Abdominal Surgery

April 30, 2024

Undergoing abdominal surgery can be a daunting experience. Whether it’s for an emergency procedure, like appendicitis, or an elective surgery, such as a hernia repair, the aftermath can be challenging. Recovery from abdominal surgery often requires a well-planned physical therapy program to regain strength, mobility, and function. In this guide, we’ll explore the importance of physical therapy after abdominal surgery and what you can expect during the rehabilitation process.

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Why Physical Therapy is Important After Abdominal Surgery

Abdominal surgery can significantly impact your core muscles, posture, and overall mobility. The incisions, tissue healing, and muscle recovery all contribute to the need for a tailored physical therapy program. Here are some key reasons why physical therapy is crucial after abdominal surgery:

Restoration of Core Strength

Your abdominal muscles play a central role in stability and posture. Surgery can weaken these muscles, leading to discomfort and reduced strength. Physical therapy helps rebuild core strength, providing a solid foundation for daily activities and exercise.

Improved Mobility

After surgery, you may experience stiffness and restricted movement. Physical therapy addresses these limitations, helping you regain flexibility and mobility. This is especially important for simple activities like bending, reaching, and walking.

Pain Management

Physical therapy techniques can help reduce postoperative pain and discomfort. Through controlled movements, massage, and other modalities, therapists can address pain and promote healing.

Prevention of Complications

Proper physical therapy can prevent complications like muscle imbalances, scar tissue adhesions, and posture-related issues. Early intervention reduces the risk of long-term problems.


Breathing and Posture Training

Deep breathing exercises are crucial for promoting healing and preventing respiratory complications after surgery. Physical therapy sessions may include guided breathing exercises to improve lung capacity and reduce the risk of lung-related issues. Additionally, posture training helps you maintain a healthy alignment as you recover.

Gradual Increase in Activity

As your strength and mobility improve, your therapist will gradually increase the intensity and variety of exercises. This phase might include light resistance training, gentle stretching, and functional activities like getting in and out of a chair or bed.

Education and Home Exercises

Your physical therapist will provide education on proper body mechanics and techniques to avoid strain. They will also give you a set of home exercises to continue your recovery between sessions. Following these guidelines is crucial for a successful recovery.



Physical therapy is a vital component of recovery after abdominal surgery. It helps you regain strength, improve mobility, and manage pain effectively. By following a structured rehabilitation program and working closely with your physical therapist, you can speed up your recovery and reduce the risk of complications. Remember, everyone’s recovery journey is unique, so be patient and stay consistent with your physical therapy program. If you have any concerns or questions, always consult with your healthcare provider or physical therapist for guidance.