Without knowing more about the type of hernia you experienced, I’m assuming you had inguinal hernia repair surgery. An inguinal hernia contains a loop of intestine that is trapped outside of the lower abdominal muscle wall due to a weak spot in the musculature. For open hernia repair surgery, a single long incision is made in the groin and the bulge is either pushed back into place or tied off and removed. Traditionally, the weak spot in the muscle wall where the hernia bulges through has been repaired by sewing the edges of healthy muscle tissue together. More recently, mesh patches of synthetic material have been used to repair hernias. Patches are sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal wall after the hernia is pushed back into place.
Recovery time is for hernia surgery is about 3 weeks, with a recommended duration of waiting to return to light activity at that time. Strenuous exercise should wait until after 6 weeks of recovery. Since you have been cleared for exercise by your surgeon, you should be ready to start strengthening your core muscles slowly as you incrementally increase the intensity of exercise. Take it slowly and constantly monitor your body for signs of discomfort or changes in your incision. Redness, swelling or oozing could mean an infection, so contact your doctor if you notice any worrisome signs. Also, let pain guide your exercise program such that if you experience pain, back off the exercise immediately and discontinue doing that particular movement for several workout sessions until you have strengthened your core through other means. However, pay attention to the difference between pain and muscle soreness, as it is normal and expected that your abdominal muscles will be sore after introducing exercise following a period of recovery from surgery.
The following exercises are good options to use initially as you are getting back into a more rigorous routine for strengthening your core:
• Partial Crunch: Unlike traditional crunches, for partial crunches don't focus on how high you flex your torso; instead, think about how much you tighten your abdominal muscles. Partial crunches are so called because you should only flex your torso a few inches while tightening your muscles. Start with one set of 15 repetitions (holding for a second at the top of the movement before descending) and slowly work your way up to three sets of 15.
• Prone Plank: Adopt the top of the push-up position and pull upward and inward with the abdominal muscles while holding the plank for up to 30 seconds. Work up to three sets of 30-second holds, resting for 30 seconds between sets.
• Lean Back: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Keeping your spine straight, slowly lean back until you feel your abdominals contracting to hold you in that inclined position (for most people this will be about 30 degrees of inclination). Hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Work up to three sets of 30-second holds, resting for 30 seconds between sets.