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I had the Nissen Laparoscopic Fundoplication surgery for GERD in April and was told that I should avoid working my core abs with crunches and the like for one year. Before the surgery, I did ab exercises at least 3 times a week. I can visibly feel and see my muscle vanishing as the months go by. Are there any exercises I can perform while my body is still healing and not directly put stress on the esophagus and stomach area? Thank you!
 
I don't want to dispute what your doctor has reccomended, but I do sympathize with your situation. How quickly you recover depends on how fit you were before surgery, as well as having good nutrition, proper rest and a great attitude. That said, you may be able to progress to some abdominal exercises (without crunches) before your year is up. After my own abdominal surgery this past March, I began practicing plank holds within 3 weeks. After 6 weeks I added in some Swiss Ball plank exercises. These type of exercises stimulate the transversus abdominis rather than the rectus abdominis, which is stimulated by crunching. (Incidently, crunching still causes some pain for me while plank holds feel great!) Begin plank exercises by balancing on your forearms and toes with a flat back. Also, if you've got clearance for strength training other muscles, make sure you keep your belly button pulled in and your chest lifted. Please check with your doctor before tryng any exercise, he or she will know what's best for your recovery.