Returning to Exercise Post Stoma Surgery

Unsure of how to get back to your favourite activities following a stoma surgery? You are definitely not alone! But rest assured, your local Exercise Physiologist is there to help you out, and provide you with the guidance and knowledge you need to return to exercise safely. 


A stoma surgery, whether a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, involves the disturbance of abdominal muscles, causing weakness through the core. The abdominal muscles are a group of muscles that are used not just for exercise, but for everyday activities too, such as getting out of bed, carrying the washing basket and climbing stairs. 


There is often a large amount of uncertainty in regards to physical activity, and research shows that ostomates feel there is a lack of education and guidance about what they should be doing in the months following surgery. There is also a common concern of exercise and physical activity leading to further complications, such as a parastomal hernia. Current research shows that a gradual abdominal exercise program actually leads to reduced rates of parastomal hernia development and an increased quality of life in the first 12 months [1]. 


A gradual exercise program following stoma surgery will often start with learning to use the abdominal muscles again, and how to engage them properly and safely. This will look different for each individual and therefore it is important to consult an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. From here, the movements and exercises prescribed will become more functional, mimicking every day activities, and your specific needs and interests. Strengthening the muscles through specific exercises can help to not only make daily activities feel less challenging, but also improve your confidence with movement and increase engagement in physical activity. 


It is important to remember that ostomates can still get all the same benefits of exercise as everyone else, such as reduced risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, as well as the added benefits of reducing the risk of further complications. 


If you think you could benefit from consulting an exercise physiologist following your surgery (no matter how long ago it was!), give us a call on (02) 4208 5129 today. 



[1]: North, J 2014 ‘Early intervention, parastomal hernia and quality of life: a research study’, British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 23, Issue. Sup5


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