Welcome to Week Three of The Chrysalis Method:
Back to Life
Week 3 is when many women really start to notice changes. The swelling starts to go down and the breasts start to drop with those who’ve had a breast augmentation and you will likely start to feel back to your normal self. Regardless of your type or reason for surgery, we are all in this community of healing together and you deserve to feel beautiful and confident.
Even though it’s still early and your breasts will change from where they are now, you’ve already made great progress in your recovery, so please embrace that, own it, and be proud. No matter which type of breast surgery you’ve had, you still benefit from support of others who’ve also had a type of breast surgery.
You are still in the early stages of recovery, however, you will most likely be able to start doing a lot more this week in regard to returning to your normal daily routines. Keep in mind that you still should be avoiding any heavy lifting and following your surgeons’ restrictions until he/she lifts those.
Some women report difficulty doing tasks such as reaching into cabinets, flushing the toilet, and opening/closing the car door. These are common things that we don’t think about being difficult but can cause some women discomfort. Remember that it’s completely normal to have this continued discomfort, along with continued tightness in your chest. Keep tracking your progress with your logs and keep your body moving for optimal results!
Exercise Protocol for Post-Op Breast Surgeries
Every woman’s procedure is unique. Every surgeon’s technique is unique. Every single recovery is unique. This program was designed to give women general guidelines to follow to maintain fitness, reduce post-op complications from occurring, and most importantly provide an emotional support group for all women to have as an outlet for questions and concerns while feeling part of a community avoiding isolation.
Your surgeon is the expert for your procedure, what exactly was performed, and what specific restrictions you should follow for your specific case. Only your surgeon knows exactly what tissues were cut and how your body responded during the surgery. It is important that you continue to listen to your surgeon’s precautions and follow his/her recommendations for your follow-up to ensure proper tissue healing and optimal recovery.
This program is a guideline to follow for lower body movements to keep you active during your recovery. Once your surgeon gives you permission to begin using your upper body, you will have access to unlock upper body movements that will gradually increase your range of motion back to normal as well as regain your strength.
Precautions for 4-6 weeks per most surgeons:
NO lifting, pushing, pulling more than 10 pounds. If you have a baby, toddler, or child this goes for holding him/her as well. You will need to make modifications to care for your child/children during this acute phase of healing. (Samples of things weighing about 10 pounds: average 3-month-old baby and older, a gallon of milk (1 ¼ gallon), sack of potatoes, large bag of sugar/flour, large watermelon, a holiday ham or turkey, most cats/dogs, most vacuum cleaners, laundry basket filled with towels or jeans, etc.)
If you MUST hold your baby/toddler and do not have anyone to assist you, keep your arms/elbows in tight to your sides and keep the child close to your body. In other words, do not reach out and/or hold the child away from your body as this will cause added strain on your muscles and potential harm.
NO jumping, running, bouncing (Even if you’re a marathon runner and you want to get back to running ASAP, you can’t do this until your surgeon gives you clearance which will typically be a minimum of 4 weeks post-op)
Caution must be taken with any activities engaging your core. Again, we want to make sure the incisions are healed completely before activating your core. Many incisions are made below the breasts which attaches to the same skin that covers your stomach muscles. You don’t want to compromise the healing incisions so make sure to take caution when activating your stomach muscles. This is hard to do when your core is the center of everything. Just don’t do any specific abdominal exercises like crunches/planks/sit-ups/etc.
Wear a nice supportive bra when performing any physical activity. Your surgeon will tell you whether he/she recommends you wear a bra at rest during recovery. Different surgeons have different preferences on this so it’s always important to specifically ask your surgeon about how much and what type of bra you should be wearing post-op.
As always-follow YOUR surgeon’s protocol and make sure you use caution in the very early days to let the incisions heal. Once the incisions are healed completely and there are no stitches, you can then perform cross-friction massage to the scar to lessen the scar tissue. Again-ask YOUR surgeon when this is okay to do for your specific case. It will be several weeks before your incisions are completely healed to perform any cross- friction massage.
The Third Week after surgery:
In addition to your lower body movements, try walking on opposite days in 15 minute SLOW paced increments. If you have the time and energy, try and implement two walks per day lasting 15 minutes in duration. Again, it’s very important to emphasize that these are slow, leisurely walks and not speed walks. It doesn’t take much to increase your heart rate a slight amount so don’t overdo it. Remember that you’re only in week 3 and your body is still working to heal and doesn’t need to be pushed.
As far as adding diversity to your routine this week, you could ride a recumbent bike. Do not ride a cycling bike where your arms are resting on the arm rests. A recumbent bike is one where your back is rested on a seat back and you only use your legs. Again, caution must be taken when using a bike as we don’t want any twisting of your trunk or pulling on your incisions. This might not be appropriate for everyone depending on the type of breast procedure performed. For example, if you had a SGAP flap procedure, it would not be appropriate for you to sit on a recumbent bike. And regardless of your type of surgery, remember that your surgeon’s recommendations are always number one.
When riding a recumbent bike, you would be going at a very slow pace and emphasize only using your legs (NO ARMS!). The first three weeks may seem easy, but understand that this program is designed to maximize your recovery in a healthy way while minimizing weight gain, decreasing risk of blood clots, and increasing overall mental health and wellbeing.
In addition to your walking and/or recumbent biking, please perform the following lower body movements to improve blood flow/circulation and the release of endorphins for overall improved mood. Most women find it difficult to get in both the movements and endurance training in the same day. If you can strive to do your lower body movements on 3 days per week and the endurance activity 2 days per week at a minimum, then you will benefit tremendously.
Try to get 5 days per week of activity combination whether that’s 3x/week of the lower body movements and 2 days/week of endurance or vice versa. If you have ANY questions regarding these exercises, please post your questions to the forum for clarification prior to beginning. Or-contact Chrysalis at info@TheChrysalisMethod.com for any questions you may have. It’s best to get clarification first before attempting and doing something incorrectly.
As stated in the previous 2 weeks, the goal in the first 4 weeks is not to work up a sweat, so if you find you are giving too much effort to complete the movements, make modifications by lowering the number of repetitions or sets so that you're moving but not sweating and working hard.
Movements Week 3
Movements: Week 3
These movements should be performed 3 days during week 3. You pick which days and don’t perform them consecutively or you can follow the schedule below. If you can’t follow this exact schedule, try to get 3 days of these movements in.
Example- Days 15, 17, 19, perform all 4 of these movements. On days 16, and 21, perform two 15 minute slow, leisure walks. This totals 5 days of activities and 2 days of rest.
1. Standing Mini Squats Using Large Ball & Arms Across Chest:
o 15 reps each leg
o 3 sets total
Place the Large ball at your mid back between the wall and your back and press your back into the ball for support. Place your feet shoulder width apart and a few inches out front so when you lower into a squat your knees are at a 90 degree angle. You can rest your arms at your sides or cross them over your chest for support. Either position is fine and based on your comfort. It’s important to remember that when you finish, you bring your legs back under your torso for support and you just let the ball drop to the floor and don’t try to catch it.
2. Standing Kickbacks at a Counter or Holding Onto a Chair.
o 15 reps each leg
o 3 sets total
Keeping your back straight and no bending over at the waist, straighten your leg and extend your leg back squeezing your butt and back of leg, while standing on the other leg. Again-do not bend forward at the waist. (If this is too easy, you can add the resistance loop around your ankles for extra resistance)
3. Standing Single Leg Heel Raises.
o 15 reps each leg
o 3 sets total
You don’t have to hold onto anything if you are able to balance without holding on. If you must hold on, don’t press through your arms. Only use the chair for balance support. Keep your knees mostly straight with a very slight bend and raise straight up onto your toes contracting your calves (standing on ONE leg with the other not supported on the floor). This differs from last week because now you are doing ONE leg at a time. Hold the heel raise for 3-5 seconds squeezing your calves tight.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch.
o 3 reps each side for 30 seconds
o 3 sets total
Kneeling on one knee with the other knee at a 900angle, lean into (forward) the upright knee. This will cause a stretch in the front of the hip of the leg that is on the floor. (Example: if you’re right knee is on the floor and the left foot is planted at a 900angle, you will lean forward causing a stretch in your right hip in the front of your groin.) Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Tight hip flexors cause a lot of secondary issues in hips and backs. It’s extremely important that during your recovery we prevent your hip flexors from becoming too tight to prevent back and hip injuries from occurring.
Recap of Movements for week 3:
o Standing Mini Squats with ball between back and wall
o Standing Kick-Backs
o Standing Single Leg Heel Raises
o Hip Flexor Stretch
Total of 4 movements for week 3. Perform all 4 movements 3 times during week 3 every other day. Walk for 10-15-minute increments daily or on opposite days of your lower body movements.