Sue D., Pennsylvania, USA: Before you start any exercises after
surgery, check with your doctor and make sure it is OK to start exercising
again. Most doctors give a six-week restriction for lifting and other
strenuous physical activity. Your body needs this time to heal -- not
just the scar you see on the outside, but all the tissues inside, as
well. Don't rush it!
My fitness trainer helped me get back into shape after my hysterectomy.
I asked her to help me explain the exercises she had me do. First, she
explained that whenever you work your abdominal muscles, you should
also work your back muscles, and your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles
form a cage around your pelvis and you should work on them equally.
Pelvic floor muscles. Before each repetition of the following
exercises, lift your pelvic floor muscles, also known as the "Kegel"
muscles, and hold them through the repetition. If you are unsure which
muscles these are, stop urinating midstream next time you use the bathroom.
Those are your Kegel muscles. When you exercise, think about lifting
rather than squeezing for best results.
Abdominal muscles. This exercise is the safer version of the
dreaded "sit-ups" we did in high school. "Abdominal crunches"
look almost like you aren't working, but you are and you will feel it!
Lie on the floor with your knees bent, hands behind your head. Tilt
your pelvis back (flatten the small of your back against the floor).
Lift your head and shoulders up until you feel your abdominal muscles
contract (don't forget to Kegel first!). Do not bend your neck or let
your chin drop (a grapefruit should be able to fit under your chin,
so they say). Slowly lower your head to the floor again. Repeat 10 times,
then stay up and do 10 mini-crunches before returning to the floor.
You can gradually do more sets of 10 as your strength increases.
Roll onto your stomach. Kegel, then bring your arms and legs off the
floor. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, rest then
do another set of 10.
Back muscles. Anytime you work your abdominals, you should work
your back muscles, too, to keep your posture balanced. "Bridging"
is a good back exercise.
Start in the same position as the abdominal crunches above -- Lie on
the floor with your knees bent, hands behind your head. Kegel, squeeze
your buttocks, then left your hips off the floor. Hold for a couple
of seconds, then lower your hips to the floor. Repeat 10 times. On the
tenth time, stay up and hold for a count of 10, then lower your hips
to the floor. Repeat the set as many times as you can tolerate.
Abs and back together. This exercise works both abdominals and
back muscles together to strengthen your whole trunk.
Start by kneeling on the floor on all fours. Slowly raise your left
arm and right leg, keeping them straight as possible (remember to Kegel
first!). Slowly lower your arm and leg again. Repeat 10 times. Then
Good luck! Last words: take it easy, it shouldn't hurt. If it does,
stop. Ask for help from a trainer or physical therapist who can make
sure you are doing the exercise properly.
Trenna, Orthopedic and Women's Health Physical Therapist, Pennsylvania,
USA: Here's an exercise that has helped me a lot. It can strengthen
your abdominal muscles, your back, and your pelvic floor -- all at once
-- and very effectively. It will relieve backache and reduce stress
incontinence (urine leaks that happen when you cough, laugh and sneeze).
It can help many more than just women who have had hysterectomies.
It is an exercise done standing, with heels softly together and big
toes about four inches apart.
TALL: Lift your rib cage up away from your pelvis. Imagine that there
is a string at the back of the top of your head lifting you up. Your
chin is in a neutral position -- not down, not poked forward.
WASP: Suck in your belly as hard as you can, without pain or cramping,
and without holding your breath. Aim your belly for your spine, and
think "wasp waist". Make the contraction deep and complete.
BUTT: Let the belly tightness flow to your buttocks. Pinch them together.
Your tail will automatically tuck under.
LIFT your pelvic floor up toward your belly button. PRESS your inner
Hold all the tightness as long as is comfortable. Your breathing should
be slow and steady, with deep breaths in and out.
That's it! Just remember: TALL WASP BUTT LIFT PRESS. Repeat four times
if you can. Back off a little if you have a cramp; you will be able
to work up to a stronger contraction quickly. Do another set of four
at another time during the day -- while you are talking on the phone
or even washing dishes!! When this is easier, rise up on your toes and
balance there for a few seconds. Then add head and arm movements. Moving
the head and the arms adds a dimension of demand for increased stability,
and balance. Invent your own patterns -- be creative.