One of my principal concerns regarding breast augmentation was the fear of not being able to exercise normally afterwards. I was concerned for both the immediate effects (the weeks right after surgery) and the long term effects (6 months, etc.). Exercise is extremely important to me, physically, mentally and socially. I hardly miss a day. So as you can imagine, I was worried that I would gain lots of weight after surgery and experience a lot of stress from not being able to workout. I decided to write this to share with other workout fanatics that there is hope!
I would like to reiterate that I have years of experience in the gym and am also a certified Aerobics Instructor. I add this to emphasize the point that I know my body very well, how it works, and what it is capable of doing. Therefore, I recommend that each person recover at their own pace and do what is appropriate for their body and their level of experience. Below is a summary of my exercise experience after my BA on June 9, 2003. Less than 5 weeks have passed since the surgery and the progress is quite encouraging!
WEEK 1: For the first 2 days, I was able to do very little activity, but by the 3rd to 7th day I was taking walks. Each day I was able to walk a little further and a little faster. Of course, I was not swinging my arms around. I kept them in a static position. Also, I was able to do lunges and squats. If you know how to do them, and control your body well, lunges and squats should produce NO sensation in the upper body. I did them in my living room and really felt the results!
WEEK 2: More walking, lunges and squats, and I began to work my waist by moving my ribcage side to side and, while holding my chest, twisting my torso side to side. After being immobile for a week or so, you can really feel results! The last day of week 2…I went to my gym! Yes, I explained to the doctor what I had already been doing for exercise and he told me that I could walk on the treadmill at the gym. Boy was I elated. My first day back I walked 20 minutes (varying up hill slow and level fast), and did 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. If you are not familiar with the elliptical trainer, it is a machine that moves your feet in a pattern similar to skiing, however, in a bit more circular motion. I also spent 20 minutes on this machine. I did NOT use my arms.
WEEK 3: By week 3 I was still tight in the chest but with increased flexibility and use of my arms. I continued the regime above; however, added the use of light weights for upper body. I was very careful not to perform upper body exercises that engaged my chest (or pectoral muscles). By this time I was also able to use my arms on the elliptical trainer. The highlight of this week was my participation in a Spinning class. As spinning (or indoor cycling to music) engages mainly the lower body, it is a great option for recovery. The movements that required some upper body engagement (like getting out of the saddle and climbing slowly) I performed with caution or no at all. I always work at my own pace and respond to any discomfort in my chest.
WEEK 4: I felt great! I began to really try to stretch my chest muscles. NOT FUN, but necessary. I began to do sit-ups, which is not easy as it engaged much more of my chest than I had anticipated. It was important that I did not lift to high or fast. Short, controlled movements are very effective. I also reached a new milestone; I began to do the exercise...
that most matters to me…running. I started with 3 minutes on the treadmill followed by 5 or so of walking, and repeated the sequence a few times. It was difficult and awkward. I was a "runner" and normally ran up to 5-7 miles. It was sad and frustrating to feel the movement of my breasts, the added weight, and the discomfort. I could not imagine how "large-chested" women went jogging.
WEEK 5: I am currently in week 5 and am fully participating in spinning classes, and the above mentioned activities. Arm movement is now easy and normal, and my chest muscles are no longer tight. I still do not do direct chest exercises as I do not even see the need to do them at this stage in my life. I do, however, work my shoulders, biceps and triceps. Yesterday I was able to run 30 minutes (at a slow pace) on a cemented beach path. When I first started out it was odd to feel my chest bouncing a bit. After the first 10 minutes, I was used to it. I am a firm believer that a sports bra makes a huge difference and is required. I still wear a band on the top part of my chest for running. It helps minimize the bounce.
As you can see, I am only at the beginning of week 5 and have been able to not only exercise, but maintain my weight, my figure and my sanity! As I frequently see questions posted on the site regarding exercise, I thought it might be helpful to share my story. Hoping with my heart that it is helpful and emphasizing that each person's recovery is different and therefore your ability to exercise will vary. Best wishes!