Recovery Exercises After a Hysterectomy
Are you seeking safe exercise after a hysterectomy?
Unfortunately many women are not fully informed about appropriate exercises to choose and those to avoid after vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.
These post-operative exercise guidelines by Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway help you return to exercise safely.
Michelle is the author of the Inside Out pelvic floor safe exercise series for women.
Read on now to learn:
- How much walking after a hysterectomy
- Safe abdominal core exercises after a hysterectomy
- Strength exercises after hysterectomy
- Posture exercises to promote recovery
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) after a hysterectomy
- How exercise promotes hysterectomy recovery
- Exercise and side effects of a hysterectomy.
Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise Saver Pack
Inside Out eBook and exercise workout video both available in this cost effective saver pack (download or hardcopy format).
Inside Out eBook and exercise video pack helps you:
- Lose weight and maintain body weight
- Safely strengthen and tone
- Understand unsafe exercises to avoid
- Choose pelvic floor safe exercises
- Strengthen your pelvic floor
- Increase your lean muscle
- Improve your bone health
1. 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.
Start out walking on flat surfaces and follow specialist 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.
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;
- Aim for a couple of short walks rather than one long walk when starting to build up endurance;
- 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.
2. Abdominal Core Exercises after Hysterectomy
Your deep abdominal muscles should work with your pelvic floor muscles to protect and support your insides.
Activate your Core Abdominal Muscles
Knowing how to correctly activate your deep core abdominal muscles will help you move with more comfort and help to protect your internal wound as you move.
Learn how to activate core abdominal muscles in this core abdominal training video (right)
Correct core abdominal activation involves:
- Sitting or standing tall with the normal inward curve in your lower back
- Identifying your lower abdominal wall (the area below the navel covered by a full brief)
- Gently drawing the lower abdominal wall inwards towards your spine
- Maintaining this gentle abdominal muscle contraction
- Breathing normally throughout this exercise
Progress Abdominal Core Exercises
When you know how to activate your abdominal muscles, you can use them as you move around. When you are ready, you may progess your training with gentle lying down deep abdominal exercises.
Appropriate core abdominal muscle exercises for hysterectomy recovery can be viewed here in our Physiotherapist video demonstrating safe core exercises
Abdominal Exercises to Avoid
Avoid sit ups (crunches) and abdominal exercise machines after hysterectomy, particularly during the first 3 months recovery.
Sit up exercises 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.
3. Safe Abdominal and Whole Body Strength Exercises
Pelvic floor safe abdominal and strength exercises to choose and those to modify and avoid after a hysterectomy are provided in Inside Out book and strength workout DVD.
The Inside Out program by Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist shows women how to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor from injury.
4. Posture 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;
- 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.
5. 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 working well.
Make sure you understand how to perform pelvic floor exercises correctly to avoid risk of internal strain with the wrong technique.
General opinion varies widely as to the best time to commence Kegel exercises after hysterectomy, so always check your gynaecologists’ preferences before starting.
Learn how to do Kegel exercises after a hysterectomy in this online Physiotherapist video (above).
6. 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.
7. 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 the principles of pelvic floor safe exercises outlined in this article will also help you towards long-term protection of your pelvic floor to minimize your risk of prolapse.