Helpful Stretches after Gynecologic Cancer Treatment

Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, Andrea Cheville, MD, Lora Packel, M.S.P.T.
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: September 8, 2002

Copyright © 2002 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission in writing from the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

The following exercises are to help you regain your normal flexibility of the trunk, pelvis and hips after your surgery or radiation treatment. Check with your doctor, nurse or physical therapist before beginning these exercises!

Helpful Guidelines

  • If you are experiencing significant pain, discontinue exercises and notify your doctor or nurse.
  • If your abdomen, groin or legs become swollen after these exercises, contact your doctor, nurse or physical therapist.
  • After your surgery, it may take up to 6 months to recover full motion in the abdominal and pelvic region.
  • The best way to approach these exercises is to work gradually, increasing your motion in small steps.
  • It may be helpful to do exercises when your muscles are warm, such as after a bath or shower. DO NOT use a heating pad in the abdominal/pelvic area
  • After surgery or radiation you may have tightness in you abdomen, groin and hip(s). This is normal. Completing these stretches will help to alleviate this tightness.
  • Exercise in front of a mirror to keep your correct posture and motion.
  • Be sure to breathe during your exercises. You may not realize that you are holding your breath.
  • Try to lie on a firm surface when doing the exercises (the floor is preferable to the bed or couch). This will help you stabilize as you stretch.


  • You will have restrictions with lifting and activity after your surgery. Your doctor will let you know when you may resume your previous activity level.
  • These exercises are designed to serve as a guide to increase flexibility of the trunk and pelvic region. Start gradually and work up to the recommendations below.

Exercise 1 of 5: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
  1. Lie relaxed in the position shown
  2. Place you hands on your abdomen
  3. Breathe in slowly but deeply through your nose keeping the upper chest quiet, and allowing your abdomen to rise.
  4. Slowly breathe our through your mouth
  5. Repeat 10 times, 1-2 times daily
Stretch 1
Exercise 2 of 5: Prone Lying
  1. Assume the position shown
  2. If lying propped on your elbows is uncomfortable, lie flat
  3. Hold position for 20 seconds
  4. 5 repetitions, 2-3 times daily
Stretch 2
Exercise 3 of 5: Lower Trunk Rotation
  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet together, arms out to the side
  2. Rotate knees to the side until you feel a stretch
  3. Hold 10 seconds
  4. Return to neutral and repeat to opposite side
  5. Hold 10 seconds
  6. 10 repetitions, 1-2 times daily
Stretch 3
Exercise 4 of 5: Groin Stretch
  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet together as shown
  2. Spread knees apart so that you feel a stretch
  3. Hold 10 seconds
  4. 5-10 repetitions, 1-2 times daily
Stretch 4
Exercise 5 of 5: Gluteal and Lower Trunk Stretch
  1. Lie on back
  2. Pull one knee up towards the armpit
  3. Hold 10 seconds
Stretch 5