Before my operation, apart from having some large fibroids and anemia, I was pretty fit and had good core stability. I believe that having good core stability is the key to success as you can work all the other parts of your body whilst your abdomen stays still.
The day after my operation I started doing the basic Pilates warm up exercises in my bed, even with the catheter in, just to keep all my joints mobilised.
Days 1 – 14 I increased the amount of Pilates exercises I was doing and was outside walking for at least 20 minutes twice a day. I never took any painkillers before I exercised so that I would know if I was over doing it. I did get some abdominal pain whilst walking, but if I sat down (on a chair, log or wall, not the ground) it would disappear within 5 minutes.
Days 15 – 21 saw the most dramatic improvement. I was doing most of the basic pilates mat exercises except for the ones which are performed in the prone position (lying face down) as this put too much pressure on my still swollen abs. However these can be done standing up although your back muscles don’t work so hard. I also started swimming and by keeping my abs contracted to support my spine I was able to swim for 20 minutes with no problems. Although initially the scar felt it was pulling the feeling was short lived. I swam front crawl most of the time but was able to swim breast stroke and back crawl. I had also increased the length of time I spent walking to an hour each day but I was still having to sit down en-route when I got ab pains. I also made sure that when I had finished exercising I lay down and rested for 20 minutes.
Days 21 – 26 I really had to start building myself up as I am self employed and my classes were due to start on Day 27. I was increasing the intensity of the pilates exercises and doing them for an hour each day, I still could only walk but the rests during the walk were not so frequent and I was increasing the amount of lengths I was doing in the swimming pool but still only doing a 20 minute session and I incorporated some aqua aerobic exercises.
Days 27 – 36 My classes commenced with Aqua aerobics and Pilates. I had devised a low impact routine for the aqua aerobics where one is treading water for a lot of the time and doing lots of movements with your limbs whilst keeping your core still. This provides a good workout without pulling on your abs. I was also able to do low impact aerobics but it should be noted that this was on a wooden semi-sprung floor and I wear good quality trainers for aerobics so the impact was much more reduced than if it had been on a concrete floor. I also started cycling so I could go out with my personal training clients whilst they ran. The cycling put no strain on my abs at all although as I moved my leg upwards it would press into the inflamed area above the scar which felt most odd. I still lay down for 20 minutes after exercising.
Days 37 – 49 I continued teaching and decided to try to increase what I was doing. I tried to play tennis. This was not a good idea, serving really pulled at my scar and the stop starting was no good even though I was wearing support pants. I also started running on farm tracks. I wore support pants for this as well to help support my abs. As long as I kept on the paths I was fine but I got quite a severe ab pain when I ran on tarmac.
Days 50 – 58 I continued teaching and even performed a small amount of high impact moves in the aerobics class. I included about a 200m stretch of running on tarmac in my 5 mile route with no ill effects. On day 58 I also played tennis for 2 hours with no problems. I still however only do a few repetitions of the prone pilates exercises as it still puts a lot of pressure on my scar area.
Although I am not up to full speed I would say physically I am in good shape and feel that some of your readers may be relieved to hear that it is possible to exercise without damaging yourself relatively quickly after the operation as long as you listen to your body and stop if it starts to hurt. The key to my success I would say is my pilates training being able to keep my core stable whilst moving other parts of my body meant my abs were much less likely to suffer. And I would suggest that anyone wishing to exercise should go to a qualified pilates instructor and ask them to check that they can keep their core still, keep their back in a neutral alignment whilst doing pilates exercise. It is important that some one checks you personally as if you go to a large group pilates class it is possible that you are doing the exercises badly if the instructor isn’t coming around and checking you all the time.
Please bear in mind that Karen is a fitness instructor with ten years experience and if you’d like to contact her, you can do so by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Her experience will not be shared by everyone.
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