Your healthcare provider may recommend exercises to help you heal. Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you and how to do them correctly and safely.
You may do the first exercise right away. Once the first exercise becomes easier, you can do the pelvic tilt and dead bug exercises. You may do the other exercises when the pain is gone.
Abdominal drawing-in maneuver: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Try to pull your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then relax. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button in towards your spine and push your lower back into the floor, flattening your back. Hold this position for 15 seconds, then relax. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Dead bug: Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms at your sides, and feet flat on the floor. Draw in your abdomen and tighten your abdominal muscles. While keeping your abdominal muscles tight and knees bent, lift one leg several inches off the floor, hold for 5 seconds, and then lower it. Repeat this exercise with the opposite leg. Then lift your arm over your head, hold for 5 seconds, and then lower it. Repeat with the opposite arm. Do 5 repetitions with each leg and arm.
Once this exercise gets easy, raise one leg and the opposite arm together. Hold for 5 seconds. Lower your arm and leg and raise the opposite arm and leg up and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Partial curl: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Draw in your abdomen and tighten your stomach muscles. With your hands stretched out in front of you, curl your upper body forward until your shoulders clear the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Don’t hold your breath. It helps to breathe out as you lift your shoulders. Relax back to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Build to 2 sets of 15. To challenge yourself, clasp your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out to your sides.
After you have become good at the partial curl, you can do a diagonal curl to help strengthen your oblique abdominal muscles.
Diagonal curl: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you or clasp your hands behind your neck to support your head. Draw in your abdomen and lift your head and shoulders off the floor while rotating your trunk toward the right. Make sure you don’t use your arms to lift your body off the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Return to the starting position. Then lift your head and shoulders and rotate toward your left side. Repeat this exercise 15 times on each side. Do 2 sets of 15.
Side plank: Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds and then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed toward your chest.
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Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-09 Last reviewed: 2014-01-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Abdominal Muscle Strain Exercises: References
Maeo S, et al. Trunk muscle activities during abdominal bracing:comparison among muscles and exercises. J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Sep 1;12(3):467-74.
Teyhen DS, Rieger JL, Westrick RB, Miller AC, Molloy JM, Childs JD.Changes in deep abdominal muscle thickness during common trunk-strengthening exercises using ultrasound imaging. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008 Oct;38(10):596-605.