I have a client who had abdominal surgery four weeks ago. She has a four-inch scar down the linea alba. She was cleared to begin running but was advised against abdominal work until six weeks. I'd like to know about weight training at this time.
First, I would address the scarring with a soft tissue therapist (visit www.activerelease.com for a good doctor/therapist). The scarring will create an inelastic region, which has the potential of creating a lot of "chain reaction" dysfunctions if not properly addressed. A good therapist will be able to sense the tissue texture, tension, movement and function of the tissues, followed by applying techniques to restore normalcy to the region (within the person's limits - everyone exhibits different characteristics). This soft tissue work should be immediately followed up with abdominal training within the person's threshold. Her abdominal training should not be confused with traditional abdominal training. Here's what I mean: when you run, you are training your abdominals (yes, the doctor's recommendation doesn't make sense). How can you run without counter rotating your torso? Watch your client run. Her pelvis will go one way, and her rib cage will move the other way, which means her abdominals are being "turned on" via the leg and arm action! Without your abdominals, it is impossible to run. In order for anyone to say "no abdominal work," they must know what the abdominals do. They control the pelvis and rib cage in all three planes of motion. So what the recommendation MAY be saying is don't over stress the sagittal plane (extension-flexion) until the tissue is pliable enough to withstand such force. Your solution is to move the rib cage and pelvis in directions that don't overstress the region (not to be confused with normal stretching of the tissue), so that your client can control (in movement, not stillness) the rib cage and pelvis. An example of this explanation is simply have your client run and exaggerate her arm action (providing the arms move with the ribs). If this is new to you, please refer to Gary Gary's Functional Video Digest Series on the Abdominals. This DVD will give you the science and MANY exercises to work with. Good luck!