Your prolapse surgery recovery can be improved by knowing these simple prolapse surgery exercises and techniques. This article provides you with Physiotherapy exercises for prolapse surgery recovery that will help you move with ease, reduce discomfort and avoid some of the unwanted side effects or surgery.
Promote your prolapse surgery recovery with these prolapse surgery exercises:
- Preoperative physical fitness exercises
- Deep breathing exercises
- Circulation exercises
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Moving in bed
- Moving out of bed
This prolapse surgery exercises information is designed for women who may not have access to preoperative Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy and does not seek to replace formal medical advice.
Physical Fitness and Prolapse Surgery
If you have some time to prepare for prolapse surgery then you will benefit from improving your physical fitness. Having a good level of physical fitness will help to promote your overall recovery from prolapse surgery. You can improve your physical fitness by performing suitable whole body continuous exercises that allow you to exercise daily without placing undue strain on your prolapse.
Walking is usually an excellent physical fitness exercise for most women. Unfortunately with a moderate or severe pelvic organ prolapse walking exercise can quickly become uncomfortable. Some women find they are able to walk short distances at the outset of the day or intermittently rather than long distances. Others find that walking in water can help them walk without aggravating their symptoms. Some women find that they are able to use a stationary bike for their physical fitness.
Preoperative physical fitness exercises for prolapse may include:
- Water walking
- Land based walking
- Recumbent cycle (reclining bike)
- Stationary cycle
Deep Breathing Exercises for Prolapse Surgery
It is useful to know how to do deep breathing exercises (diaphragmatic breathing) before surgery. Deep breathing encourages air entry into the base of your lungs – the area where the oxygen and wastes moves to and from your blood stream. Expanding the small air sacs at the base of your lungs will aid post operative recovery after prolapse surgery, especially during initial post operative recovery. Deep breathing exercises can help prevent breathing complications associated with prolapse surgery and bed rest.
Postoperative deep breathing exercises are most effective when performed with the bed head elevated (you will notice it can be difficult to breathe deeply lying down flat). Deep breathing exercises are practiced by placing one hand on your upper abdomen and the other above your waist on your rib cage. Make your belly rise and your waist wide as you inhale slowly and deeply, pause briefly and then exhale slowly. Deep breathing exercises can be performed regularly during bed rest, around 4-5 deep breaths hourly is usually appropriate unless advised otherwise by medical caregivers.
Preoperative Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are important in the overall preparation for prolapse surgery. If you’re not sure about how to do pelvic floor exercises, a consultation with a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist can help you know how to improve your pelvic floor muscle support. Preoperative pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and may help to reduce the likelihood of bladder or bowel problems developing post operatively. Learning how to do pelvic floor exercises can also help you with postoperative prolapse exercises.
‘The Knack’ Exercise
‘The Knack’ is an exercise technique that can help you protect your prolapse repair. Doing ‘The Knack‘ involves a pre contraction of the pelvic floor muscles before and during increased pressure on the pelvic floor. This can be a very useful technique to know and practice before surgery as it can be then used post operatively to protect your pelvic floor repair if you need to cough or sneeze. ‘The Knack’ can be combined with placing a hand over your pelvic floor to support and protect your prolapse repair if you do need to cough.
Prolapse Surgery Exercises for Circulation
Circulation exercises increase the blood flow through the deep veins in the legs. These simple circulation exercises can help to prevent the formation of blood clots (DVT) that can occur in the lower limbs after prolapse surgery. One reason why women are encouraged to move out of bed early post operatively is to promote circulation and prevent blood clots.
Circulation exercises include:
- Calf pumps- pump your calf muscles by bending your ankles to point your toes towards your head and then down towards the end of the bed
- Heel slides- slide one alternate foot along the bed to bring the heel towards the buttocks at a time
- Thigh squeezes -tense your thighs for a few seconds by pushing the back of your knees down gently into the bed and relaxing your thigh muscles
Moving in Bed
Moving in bed after prolapse surgery can be challenging, especially if you are connected to a catheter tube, drips and drains. It can be very helpful to practice moving in bed before your surgery to promote prolapse surgery recovery.
To move in bed safely avoid using the hanging ring or bar above the bed. Many Gynaecology Hospital wards have now removed these rings as using them to move in bed places strain on the abdomen and increases pressure on the pelvic floor however they can still be found in some hospitals.
To move comfortably and safely in bed after prolapse surgery lower the bed head down, slide one heel at a time towards your buttocks, and then lift your buttocks up off the bed. Keep your head on the bed, push down through your elbows and your heels and to move yourself up the bed. You will usually find this technique can also help to relieve pressure off the lower back.
Moving Out of Bed after Prolapse Surgery
There are two steps to moving out of bed and protecting your repair. Moving out of bed is well worth learning and practicing before prolapse surgery rather than afterwards.
Step 1- Roll
Roll like a log without twisting through your waist directly onto your side to face the side of the bed you wish to get out of. This should be the side of the bed where your catheter and any drips or drains are positioned. To roll onto your side you will need to move slightly across the bed before rolling (to give your body space to roll and avoid rolling out of bed).
Step 2- Side Push Up
Lying on your side, push your body up sideways using your lower elbow and upper hand in front of your body at the same time as you lower your legs down over the side of the bed. Lifting your body sideways will protect your wound and help to avoid strain.
These simple prolapse surgery exercises and techniques will help you to be more active and comfortable as you move after your surgery. They can also help you to avoid some of the unwanted side effects of prolapse surgery – so if you have some time before your prolapse repair they are well worth knowing and practicing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Prolapse Exercises Inside Out.
Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.