Recovery Exercises After a Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy post-operative exercise guidelines for returning to safe exercises after a hysterectomy.
This pelvic floor physiotherapy recovery information applies to women seeking safe return to exercise after vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy. Always seek the approval from your medical specialist before recommencing any exercise after a hysterectomy.
Read on now to learn:
- How much walking after a hysterectomy;
- Safe abdominal core exercises after a hysterectomy;
- Posture exercises to promote recovery;
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) after a hysterectomy;
- How exercise promotes hysterectomy recovery; and
- Exercise and some side effects of a hysterectomy.
Download these Hysterectomy Recovery Post-Operative Exercise Guidelines by scrolling down.
How Much Walking After a Hysterectomy?
During the first 6–8 weeks of recovery, walking exercises after a hysterectomy aim to maintain general condition and minimize decrease in fitness during recovery.
Walking after a hysterectomy tips:
- Walk in the morning when well rested;
- Wear quality support briefs for abdominal and pelvic support;
- Walk on flat surfaces, avoid hills;
- Wear well-cushioned footwear; and
- Aim for a couple of short walks rather than one long walk when starting to build up endurance.
Commence walking on flat surfaces and follow your gynaecologists’ instructions for how much walking you should be doing. Most women commence walking for 5 minutes in the first week, and increase by approximately 5 minutes every week after surgery however this will depend upon initial fitness levels and whether any complications occur after surgery.
Always listen to your body and if you have discomfort associated with walking you have probably done too much. In this case reduce and/or slow down your walking program.
Abdominal Core Exercises After Surgical Recovery
Your deep abdominal muscles should work with your pelvic floor muscles to protect and support your insides. Core abdominal muscle exercises for hysterectomy recovery can be viewed here abdominal hysterectomy recovery exercises.
Avoid sit up exercises after a hysterectomy
It is advisable to avoid sit ups and abdominal exercise machines after hysterectomy, particularly during the first 3 months recovery.
Sit ups increase downward pressure on the pelvic floor and the internal surgical site. Core abdominal exercises can increase the risk of pelvic floor problems such as prolapse and incontinence particularly if the pelvic floor is weak. Some exercise equipment in women’s circuits, gyms and even some Pilates exercises can also increase pelvic floor pressure and likelihood of strain.
Complete guidelines for pelvic floor safe abdominal and strength exercises to choose and those to modify and avoid after a hysterectomy are provided in Inside Out by Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist.
Posture and Strength Exercises After a Hysterectomy
Practice sitting and standing with good posture following your surgery.
Good posture after a hysterectomy involves:
- Standing tall;
- Gently activating deep abdominal core muscles (discussed next section);
- Lifting the crown of the head towards the ceiling when sitting, standing and walking; and
- Avoiding the tendency to bend forward to protect the abdomen with movement.
Strength exercises after week 6
Some studies suggest studies there may be an association between hysterectomy and prolapse after hysterectomy surgery, however this link has not been firmly established. Heavy lifting is a risk factor for prolapse in women. Based on this information, avoid heavy lifting and perform pelvic floor safe exercise during your hysterectomy recovery and beyond.
When you have your gynecologists’ approval, you may be ready to commence post hysterectomy pelvic floor safe strength training exercises using light hand weights as detailed in the pelvic floor safe strength workout DVD for women Inside Out Strength.
Kegel Exercises After a Hysterectomy
Pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs (bladder, vagina and rectum). The pelvic floor muscles will provide better support for hysterectomy recovery if they are strong and functioning well. Make sure you understand how to perform pelvic floor exercises correctly to avoid risk of internal strain with the wrong technique.
To learn more about kegel exercises after a hysterectomy, see our free pelvic exercise DVD Kegel exercises after hysterectomy.
General opinion varies widely as to the best time to commence Kegel exercises after hysterectomy, so always check your gynaecologists’ preferences before starting.
How Exercise Promotes Hysterectomy Recovery
Appropriate exercise after hysterectomy can improve your:
- Ability to return to your everyday work and activities;
- Confidence to move;
- Strength, energy and well being;
- Posture and deep abdominal (core) muscle control; and
- Pelvic floor strength to support your surgery long-term.
Exercise and Side Effects of Hysterectomy
Some exercises can help prevent some side effects of a hysterectomy. These include:
- Decreased fitness, strength and tone;
- Lung problems or blood clots in the deep veins in your calf muscles;
- Back pain and stiffness with prolonged bed rest and decreased movement;
- Decreased bladder control; and
- Feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety.
A sensible approach to exercises after a hysterectomy can help you to recover and return to your former strength and fitness. Understanding of the principles of pelvic floor safe exercises outlined in this article will also help you towards long-term protection of your pelvic floor to minimise the risk of prolapse.
Download Hysterectomy Recovery Recovery Post-Operative Exercise Guidelines as a user friendly PDF.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise safely and effectively after a hysterectomy with pelvic floor safe exercises.