Walking after prolapse surgery is the exercise of choice for most women.
Walking promotes physical recovery and reduces the risk of postoperative complications.
This Physiotherapist walking guide for weeks 1-6 after prolapse surgery includes:
- When to start walking after your prolapse surgery
- How much walking in week one
- How to progress walking during the first 6 weeks
- Precautions for avoiding injury when walking after surgery
Always follow your medical caregiver’s guidelines for walking after prolapse surgery.
1. When to Start Walking After Your Prolapse Surgery
Most women start walking during the hospital stay after prolapse surgery.
Your surgeon will give approval for when you can commence walking and for many women this is the day after prolapse surgery.
If you’re unwell or with unforeseen complications your surgeon may defer walking.
It’s important to get out of bed and start walking as soon as you’re sufficiently recovered after prolapse surgery.
Benefits of walking after prolapse surgery
The goal of walking after prolapse surgery is to minimise physical decline and avoid common postoperative complications.
- Improves breathing and reduce your risk of postoperative lung problems
- Promotes circulation to decrease your risk of blood clots forming in the deep veins of your legs
- Reduces your risk of developing back pain with prolonged bed rest
- Promotes bowel movement to avoid constipation
- Improves posture
- Promotes independence and self confidence
Walking after surgery is never directed towards increasing fitness or weight loss. Manage your diet well if you’re concerned about weight gain after prolapse surgery.
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2. How Much Walking in Week 1?
During Hospital Stay
When you’re first mobilised out of bed after your surgery you’ll usually walk a short distance accompanied by your nurse or Physiotherapist.
The distance you initially walk is determined by your postoperative recovery, general health and surgical procedure.
Most women are can walk a short distance to their bathroom or hospital corridor on the day after surgery. Others find they can manage a couple of minutes standing and walking on the spot (lifting one leg after another) before returning to bed.
After Hospital Discharge
When you first arrive home from hospital continue with the same daily walking routine that you were doing in hospital.
It’s most beneficial to do short regular walks though the day alternating walking with sitting out of bed and resting in bed.
For example you may be able to walk continuously for 5 minutes at the end of your hospital stay. You’ll usually continue walking for 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day when first arriving home.
3. How to Progress Walking During the First 6 Weeks
Progress your home walking program at your own pace by increasing the time (distance) you spend walking.
It’s usually appropriate to progress the time you spend walking by approximately 5-10 minutes weekly if you feel sufficiently well.
Progressing walking after prolapse surgery
An example of how you may progress your weekly home walking program:
- Week 1 with 5 minute walks
- Week 2 progress to 5-10 minutes continuous walking
- Week 3 progress to 10-15 minutes of continuous walking
- Week 6 aim for a 30 minute continuous walk (according to how well you progress).
Avoid trying to increase your walking speed. Your walking speed will improve as you recover over time.
Walking for general fitness after prolapse surgery commences after the postoperative 6 week check up with your medical specialist’s approval. At this time you may be able to increase your walking speed according to your physical comfort.
4. Precautions to Avoid Injury When Walking After Surgery
- Walk when you feel well rested rather than fatigued
- Progress walking gradually to avoid straining your internal wound
- Short frequent walks through the day are more appropriate than longer distance walks during the first 6 weeks of recovery
- Listen to your body and if you feel unusual discomfort during or after walking take a break before resuming
- Increase the distance you walk during the first 6 weeks after surgery rather than the speed
- Walk on flat surfaces and avoid hills where possible
- Walk with good tall posture and avoid slumping forwards when walking
- Choose outdoor walking if possible since treadmill walking may impact your pelvic floor more than outdoors where surfaces vary.
- Wearing support briefs, tights or exercise bike pants that cover the abdomen can improve comfort and support
- Wear well cushioned fitted shoes rather than thongs or scuffs
Key Points for Walking After Prolapse Surgery
- Most women commence walking the day after prolapse surgery
- Walking provides numerous physical and emotional benefits after surgery
- When starting out in hospital you’ll usually be accompanied walking to and from the bathroom
- Short regular walks through the day are appropriate for most women after discharge from hospital
- Progress the time you spend walking approximately 5 minutes per walk on a weekly basis
- Walking for fitness by increasing your speed usually commences after 6 weeks with your surgeon’s approval.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Michelle lectures to health professionals and promotes community health through her writing, radio segments, online exercise videos and community presentations. She holds dual post graduate physiotherapy qualifications in women’s health and exercise.