Walking after a Hysterectomy – Week by Week Guidelines
Walking after a hysterectomy is usually one of the best forms of general exercise for most women. Walking is a low impact exercise that places minimal pressure on your wound as it promotes hysterectomy recovery.
Read on now to learn:
- Benefits of walking after a hysterectomy;
- How walking decreases possible side effects;
- How to walk after surgery;
- Physiotherapy week by week walking guide; and
- Tips for safe walking after surgery.
Benefits of Walking after a Hysterectomy
Benefits of walking after a hysterectomy include:
- Maintaining physical condition and minimising physical decline in fitness;
- Improving energy levels and feelings of well being;
- Improving posture;
- Easing back pain and joint stiffness.
How Walking after a Hysterectomy Decreases Some Side Effects
Walking exercise during your recovery can help women overcome common side effects of hysterectomy including:
- Decreased fitness, physical strength and muscle tone;
- Post-operative complications such as lung problems and blood clots in the deep veins in your lower legs;
- Back pain and stiffness;
- Difficulty passing gas or wind;
- Constipation; and
- Feelings of sadness, stress and sometimes anxiety.
Tips for Walking after Hysterectomy
These tips will help you ensure safe walking during your recovery:
- Walk on flat surfaces and avoid hills;
- Wear supportive and cushioned footwear- level grass surface is ideal to cushion impact;
- Wear quality support briefs for comfort and support when walking;
- Don’t walk with pets on leads;
- Don’t walk too far- remember that you have to walk home; and
- Short regular walks are preferable to long walks especially within the first 6 weeks after surgery.
Week by Week Walking Guide
All women are different in terms of how much walking they can manage and how they progress with walking after a hysterectomy.always be guided by your surgeon’s instructions for when to recommence walking and how much walking is appropriate for you when recovering from hysterectomy surgery.
Your walking program depends upon factors such as your level of fitness before your surgery, the type of surgery you’ve had and any post-operative complications you may have experienced.
The following week by week description outlines the level of walking that many women are able to achieve. This is intended as general information only not post operative exercise prescription. Always consult with your medical caregiver for specific exercise guidance after a hysterectomy.
After discharge from hospital weeks 1-2
Most women are able to comfortably continue their in-hospital walking routine when discharged from hospital. This usually involves short walks of approximately five minutes at a time at intervals throughout the day. By the end of the second week it is usually appropriate to aim for ten minutes continuous walking but this varies from woman to woman.
Most women can comfortably increase their continuous walking by approximately five minutes per week after their surgery. By the end of week four you may be able to perform twenty minutes of continuous walking. Listen to your body and only progress the time you spend walking as you feel comfortable to do so. Discomfort during or after walking can be an indication that you have overdone things a little and that you need to ease off on your speed and time spent walking.
By six weeks after a hysterectomy many women can walk continuously for up to thirty minutes. Once again remember that everyone progresses at different rates so take things at your own pace. If you are unable to manage one long walk then you may find it better to break your walks down to a couple of shorter walks during the day.
Week 7 onwards
By this time you have usually had your check up with your gynaecologist. When you have the all clear to exercise you may wish to start gradually increasing the speed of your walking and the distance you walk. Remember that for most women, full healing requires three months so you need to continue to progress your walking program gradually.
Walking Safely after Hysterectomy
Seek your gynaecologist’s approval - before commencing walking exercise after a hysterectomy, bladder surgery or surgery for pelvic prolapse.
Listen to your body – when you are very tired or experiencing discomfort, then you should rest. During the first weeks following your hysterectomy, plan your exercise to be well timed with adequate pain relief. If any exercise causes you discomfort then cease it immediately. If you find that you have discomfort during or after exercise you may have probably done too much. In this case stop, rest and next time take things easier.
Exercise at your own pace – women progress at different rates after a hysterectomy or prolapse surgery. Avoid comparing how quickly you progress after your surgery with anyone else. Everyone is different and surgical procedures may also differ from woman to woman.
Progress exercise gradually – make sure that you feel comfortable during exercise. Gradually increase your walking exercise as your body heals.
Combine exercises with rest – rest will promote your physical recovery. You may find that it helps to walk for short regular intervals during the day, rather than one long session of exercise.
Contact your gynaecologist – if you have any particular concerns when exercising after surgery, contact your specialist immediately.
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 after hysterectomy with pelvic floor safe exercises.