Umbilical Hernia Recovery Without Surgery: I Did It, and I Can Teach You How to Do It, Too
If you have an umbilical hernia and want to know how you can achieve recovery without surgery, you're in the right place!
It's possible for some people to recover from an umbilical hernia without surgery. The first step is always to check with your doctor and be sure that you are cleared to exercise. Normally a doctor will perform an exam and let you know if you need to have emergency surgery or not.
Gina Paulhus healed from her own umbilical hernias without surgery, and she teaches others every day how they can do the same.
If the surgery isn't to be on an emergency basis, then oftentimes the doctor will say that you can exercise as long as it doesn't hurt. He or she may provide more specific guidelines to your particular situation. However, once you're given the go-ahead to exercise, you will know that you may be a good candidate to recover from an umbilical hernia without surgery, just like I did.
By the way, you're so smart to be researching how to heal hernias naturally! A lot of folks make the misguided assumption that all they need to do for a hernia is get a repair and it's as easy at that. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in the predicament of developing additional hernias in the future since they never got to the root of the problem.
And what is the root, you ask? It's their movement patterns and how their bodies manage pressure. The last thing you want to do is develop additional hernias down the line.
Watch My Personal Umbilical Hernia Recovery Story Here
Having a hernia repair is like pushing the "reset" button on things. It gets you out of trouble in the moment - but it doesn't address the issues in your body that led the hernia to develop in the first place.
Did you know that hernia exercises can be so effective that 50% of people with hernias avoid surgery go back to the activities they love? That's a pretty good statistic!1
I got an up close and personal lesson in healing hernias without surgery - I developed a couple of hernias in my incision after some emergency abdominal surgeries.
When I wanted to get started healing myself, I did exactly what you are doing now - I searched online. After watching some of Dr. Sarah Duvall's free videos on Youtube, I decided that she was the one I wanted to pay to help me out. Her content stood out to me because what she was teaching made so much sense to my personal trainer mind. She took the time to explain the "why" behind the exercises, and I really appreciated that.
I signed up for her Core Exercise Solutions All Access program that was designed to help those with a core or pelvic floor injury. After working in the program for about six months I was able to reverse my hernias - without surgery! This result was confirmed via CT scan.
It was confirmed that I had two large hernias in August of 2019.
By February of 2020, six months into doing my hernia exercises, my hernias had been healed.
After going through a core strengthening and balancing program like one I never encountered before (even as a high level competitive gymnast) I now have confidence that I won't ever develop a hernia again. I learned so much about what my daily routines have to do with my developing a hernia, too. There are certain techniques that can be used to make everyday things such as carrying groceries or even standing in line safer and healthier for our bodies. I loved my results so much that I felt compelled to take Dr. Sarah Duvall's PCES course so that I could teach the program to others! The course covered strategies that could be used to faciliate healing of hernias with or without repair as well as to prevent hernias from developing. It is technically a Postpartum Course, however the teachings can certainly be applied to people who have never had kids.
Here is an article I wrote for Dr. Sarah Duvall's website Core Exercise Solutions. You'll see even more of the exercises I used to help my hernia on that page as well a video about my personal hernia story. Read Now
Let's check to see if you could improve the way your breathing system functions, which will help your hernia heal naturally.
Our breathing system is the foundation of our core. The reason is, the way our lungs and our diaphragm move sets the stage for the function of the rest of our abs. Plus, we breathe a 22,000 times per day! Of course this is worth paying attention to!
In the PCES course I learned that hernias are often a full body issue - with the hernia being the symptom. Along the way I built upon the expertise I already had as a personal trainer in assisting clients with back pain, helping improve resting posture, healing diastasis recti (separation of the ab muscles along the midline), healing prolapse, and many other issues that can affect us from head to toe. A lot of these issues can be drastically helped with a few simple breathing exercises that are easy to fit into your day.2 For those who want to dive deeper, I can take you there, too. I love meeting clients where they are at and assigning them a personalized program that is suited to their lifestyle.
With these exercises I have learned and practiced and now teach, I am proud and grateful that I have achieving living a pain free life once again which includes overcoming back pain that limited my ability to walk for years. I also suffered from extreme piriformis pain that is now a long distant memory. And of course, like I said I healed the two large hernias as well as a diastasis recti. Addressing my core in very specific ways was helpful for so many of my issues. Even as a personal trainer and gymnast I didn't know any of this stuff until I took the PCES course!
Check out this testimonial from a client who had an umbilical hernia.
Let's learn one of the first core exercises I started I to heal my hernia.
Do not perform any exercises without first being clearned to do so by your doctor.
In this exercise, I am training my TA (or transverse abdominus) muscles. These are the portion of our abs that serve as a "corset" that holds everything in. Since the TAs are weaker on many people compared to the other ab muscles, such as the rectus adominus or "six pack" muscles, it's more effective to work them in isolation with "easier" moves in order to build them up. You see, when we try harder things like planks or sit-ups when our TAs are weaker, the other ab muscles will jump in and overtake the TAs.
The cool thing is, as you get stronger with your TAs you can bring back your old favorite ab moves once again and your TAs will have learned to show up for you naturally. By performing a rotation with my leg as you can see in the video, I am teaching my body to deal with real life scenarios versus everything perfectly centered and done in a straight forward direction.
In the next video, I am still targeting TAs but in this one I'm also working on the length of my hip flexors. Hip flexors that are short and tight tilt the pelvis which, in turn, places a lot of pressure out on a hernia. Elongating them goes a long way.
Skin rolling is a self care exercise that I used to recover from my hernias. It works on our fascia, which is a part of our body that is injured when we have a hernia.
Skin rolling helps free up our fascial system throughout our body. A hernia happens when there is an area of weakness in the fascia and intestine or fatty tissue ends up poking through. Why does this happen? Well, when there is tightness in our fascia, it ends up putting undo pressure on specific areas. The second our system becomes overloaded, whether it be improper pressure management or an injury, the specific area that bared more pressure can fail and a hernia can result.
In skin rolling, we are working on the areas around the hernia to help free up the amount of pressure reaching the hernia itself. This is generally a very safe practice, but always proceed with caution especially when something is new to your body.
Let's Dive a Bit More Deeply Into Why Do We Develop Hernias in the First Place
Some of the most common causes are:
- Faulty Movement Patterns
- Repetitive Movements
- One Movement That Was Overload (such as picking up something that was too heavy)
- Violent Coughing or Sneezing
- Bearing Down When Eliminating
The good news is, no matter why or how you got your hernia, I know how to help you. The exercises I teach are scalable - meaning that you can do as much or as little as you want and have time for and still receive lots benefit. I will work with you and your schedule to ensure that what I assign to you is not overwhelming. When you purchase a generic online program, there might be exercises given that you don't actually need. During our 1:1 meetings I will cut the fat to ensure that you spend time on what you need most.
If it turns out you need or want surgery, corrective exercise can increase the odds that the surgery will “take." Some of the gentler exercises can usually be started as soon as one week after surgery. With my help, you will start your recovery exercises at the perfect time for your particular procedure.
Surgery Can Fix a Hernia - But It Does Nothing for the Predisposing Causes That Led to You Getting That Hernia
Our abdomen is designed to work as a system, and everyone knows that if one part of a system fails, the whole thing falls apart. If one part of our core system is stronger than the other, hernias as the outcome - there are no two ways about it. No repair job can ensure that you won't have a repeat performance. That's the biggest reason why I don't think folks should start with surgery.
Let's take a look at a few more exercises that can help your body heal an umbilical hernia naturally - without surgery.
This exercise works on your pelvic positioning to help your body heal from a hernia.
Foot elevated glute bridges help work the glutes and train pelvic alignment via bringing the TA muscles on board. When your core is supported from the bottom up in this way, it sets the stage for your body to be able heal from a hernia. When our pelvis is spilling forward it causes constant amounts of pressure out our front. This irritates your hernia. It's like picking a scab all day long and expecting the cut to heal.
In this exercise, by using yoga blocks you make it easier to target the glutes. The quads end up working harder when we don't elevate the feet, which can cause an anterior pelvic tilt. That's the scientific term for a pelvis "spilling forward" as I described above. If you don't have yoga blocks, you can always use a step or a set of books.
The next exercise works proximal hamstrings and adductors, meaning the upper part of the back of the thigh as well as the inner thigh. This exercise targets more specifically which part of your hamstring is working the hardest, which is a way of fine-tuning pelvic alignment. By working the inner thighs, we can help reorient the upper part of the pelvis which will decrease pressure out on the front of the abs.
This next exercise works on the hernia from above by targeting the midback muscles which help support the abs.
As you can imagine, the muscles on our back have a lot to do with how our abs function, and they are also part of our core. When our midback muscles are weaker than they should be it's going to be a lot harder for you to hold a neutral core during the day. The problem with that is - you guessed it - pressure ends up spilling out the front of our core, which irritates hernias.
The great thing about working midback in the half kneeling position is you'll end up working hamstrings as well as abs if you follow along with my cuing. The hamstrings matter because they are another way we can achieve better pelvic alignment. Well developed hamstrings also look great in shorts! Double bonus! I love when I can do just one exercise and target three areas as well as my vanity at once!
I teach corrective exercises to folks with:
- Sports Hernias
- Incisional Hernias
- Umbilical Hernias
- Femoral Hernias
- Inguinal Hernias
- Complex Hernias
- Suspected Hernias (I will ask you to be clearned by a doctor first).
I am trained in helping you though a live video call format as well as through in person work. And the great news is, the video method3 has been proven to be just as successful as in person options – so no worries if we live far apart! These days, I perform over 75% of my sessions remotely and the success rate of my clients healing is the same over video as in person. Gotta love technology!
Are you interested in learning more about how you can heal your umbilical hernia without surgery? Set up a free consultation with me so we can talk.
If you would like more information on what I might be able to do for you, feel free to reach out! I offer a Free 15 minute Discovery Call where we can discuss your hernia as well as your health history and I can give you an honest assessment of how you may (or may) not benefit from what I have to offer!
I am pleased to be able to bring this knowledge and skill set to you - especially since this is an issue that is near and dear to my own heart and experience.
You can also request a Price Quote below. I promise I can give you tremendous value with even just one session! Knowledge is power. Not only have I spent countless hours in the PCES course material and lectures, but I am currently a professional member of their group which means I engage in continuing education on a weekly basis. I even help coach some of Dr. Sarah's members in her online program.
I have a full 1:1 client load now focusing on hernia repair, prolapse healing, and postpartum issues. I have also created a workout program designed to help bridge the gap from corrective work back to regular fitness programs called Fit Foundations. I have a team of Physical Therapists on my side who I can ask questions of or refer clients to if their expertise is needed to complement mine.
1 Brown A, Abrahams S, Remedios D, Chadwick SJ. Sports hernia: a clinical update. BR J Gen Pract. 2013:(608):e235-7. doi: 10.3399/bjgp13X664432
2 The functions of breathing and its dysfunctions and their relationship to breathing therapy. Rosalba Courtney. RMIT University, School Health Science, 11 Binburra Ave, Avalon, N.S.W. 2017, Australia
3 Determinants of physical activity frequency and provider advice during pregnancy. Eilann C. Santo, Peter W. Forbes, Emily Oken & Mandy B. Belfort. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth volume 17, Article number: 286 (2017).