Post-operative Exercises DIEP Reconstruction

  • Check that your posture is returning to normal, from stooped to upright.
  • Check that your shoulder movements are returning to pre-op’ range of motion.
  • Recover the tone and strength in your tummy muscles.
  • Abdominal muscle strength helps to keep your back healthy.
  • Tummy muscles can be ‘switched off’ by pain.

Good Posture – Stand Tall
Imagine a piece of string Is attached to the crown of your head and is lifting you up.

Good Posture – Sit tall, avoid slumping or overstretching

Shoulder Movements

  • Sideways and up
  • Forwards and up  
  • Behind your neck
  • Behind your back
  • Across to your  opposite shoulder

1. Switch on Your Tummy Muscles

  • Lie on your back, hands on tummy, knees bent, feet resting on floor, legs hip width apart.
  • ‘Long’ neck and back but keep the natural curve in your low back.
  • Breathe in slowly and deeply.
  • Breathing out, let your tummy button sink towards your spine without flattening or changing the position of your low back.
  • Gently tighten your muscles below your tummy button, hold the tension for five seconds and continue breathing.
  • Aim for 5-10 of these contractions several times a day.
  • Concentrate on contracting the muscles below your belly button during each breath out.

2. Tummy Toning Exercises

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on floor, arms by your side.
  •  Tighten your tummy muscles as in exercise1.
  •  Press the small of your back against the floor.
  •  Hold the position for 5 seconds, let go.

3. Heel slide

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent, arms by your sides.
  • Hold your tummy in, as in exercise 1.
  • Keep one leg stationary.
  • Slowly slide the opposite leg out until it’s straight with the floor.
  • Slide it back in to the starting position.
  • Alternate, extending the other leg out and then back. 
  • Keep the natural curve of your spine without flattening your back.
  • Contracting your abdominal muscles helps to keep your pelvis still whilst your leg moves and your lower tummy muscles work.
  • This helps train your tummy muscles to support your spine.

4. Single leg extension

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent and arms at your sides.
  • Tighten your tummy in as in exercise 1.
  • Raise one leg to ‘table top’ position (knees bent in line with hip, shin parallel to the floor).
  • Slowly stretch the lifted leg out without arching your back.
  • Return your leg to table top position.
  • Bring your foot back down to the starting position.
  • Switch sides.
  • Progress with this until you can extend the leg out and hover it about 2-3 inches above the floor
  • Work up to five repetitions on each side without stopping.
  • Build to 20 "hovering" repetitions or more on each side without allowing your back or spine to move.

5. Heel Taps

  • Lie on the floor, tighten your tummy muscles as in exercise 1. and bring your legs up one at a time to ‘table top’ position 
    (knees bent and over hips, shins parallel to floor).
  • Keep one leg stationary, slowly lower other foot down to the floor (keeping knee bent) and back up to table top.
  • Keep your low back and spine still throughout.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

6. Knee Rolling

  • On your back, knees bent, feet on the floor.
  • Roll your knees down to on one side, followed by your pelvis, keep your shoulders on the floor if possible.
  • Take a deep breath in and out to stretch, return to the starting point.
  • Alternate 8 to 10 times.  

7. Bridging

  • Lie flat on the floor, hands resting by your sides. Feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, knees bent.
  • Contract your abdominals, low back, glutes and slowly lift from tailbone up to form a straight line from your knees, through your hips to your shoulders.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower. The whole cycle of lift, hold and lower  takes at least ten seconds.

8. Stretch

  • Lie on the floor face down. Put your hands at your sides at shoulder level.
  • Keep your back relaxed hips on the floor, push shoulders up, to rest on your forearms.
  • Exhale when you reach the top, let your mid back sag as you exhale.
  • Slowly lower yourself to the starting position.
  • Push only to the point of tension, maintain your hips on the floor.
  • Don’t push into pain, bounce, or force the movement.
  • You should have a gentle curve in your back as you push up,
  • No severe curvatures in one location.

These exercises have been developed in partnership with Keeping Abreast. 

Post-operative Exercises DIEP Reconstruction