You can enjoy your favorite sports and activities after ostomy surgery, but it’s a good idea to take some precautions to protect the stoma.
After an ileostomy or colostomy, you’ll want to resume your normal activities as soon as possible, including exercising and playing your favorite sports. Once you’re fully healed, you can exercise as much as you did before the surgery, but you’ll need to take some precautions to ensure a safe workout.
An ileostomy and a colostomy both divert the digestive tract through an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. Fecal matter then flows into a pouch attached to the stoma. Fortunately, the stoma is quite strong, so you needn’t worry about harming it during your workout. However, you should adapt some safety precautions to protect your ileostomy or colostomy as you exercise.
After an ileostomy or colostomy, you stand a greater chance of a groin hernia because the muscles surrounding the stoma may be weak after surgery. In general, you should avoid any exercise that might strain your abdominal muscles, such as lifting heavy weights. As you heal, you can build up your abdominal strength by walking, swimming, biking, and doing gentle sit-ups. Maintaining a healthy weight and wearing supportive garments will keep your abdominal muscles strong, as well.
While most sports are safe after an ostomy, contact sports with a high risk of injury should generally be avoided. In some cases, however, you may still enjoy playing contact sports if your pouch is held firmly in place with a tight-fitting waistband or girdle so it isn’t dislodged. An ostomy nurse can help you find products to secure your pouch as you exercise.
Regular runners may notice small red streaks on the stoma. These marks are due to rubbing and chafing, and usually disappear when you’re not on the running track. Pouches covered with a comfort panel can protect the skin and prevent chafing.
If you like to swim, you may be hesitant to get back in the pool due to possible leakage from the pouch in water. Here again, making sure the pouch fits snugly will keep the bag in place. Before you dive into the pool, test the pouch in bath water.
Whatever exercise you prefer, gradually build up your strength and stamina. In addition to walking, biking, and swimming, aerobic activities like jogging and golfing provide a cardiovascular workout while also protecting the stoma. Try lifting lighter weights but increase the number of times you raise the weights.
Your doctor and/or stoma nurse can advise you on the right time to return to your exercise program, especially if you want to lift heavy weights. It’s also a good practice to empty the pouch before you work out so it doesn’t feel heavy and won’t leak.
Just because you’ve had ostomy surgery doesn’t mean you can’t be physically active. Exercising helps the healing process, so at the Center for Ileostomy Surgery, we encourage our patients to participate in sports. We’ll guide you through your surgery and recovery period so you’re able to return to your normal activities as soon as possible. Contact us today for an appointment.