Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Prolapse Exercise Help for Women
These prolapse exercise guidelines teach you the most effective way to strengthen your prolapse support and alleviate prolapse symptoms.
Read on now to learn the answers to these prolapse questions:
- What is prolapse exercise?
- How can prolapse exercise help?
- Who can benefit from prolapse exercise?
- Can exercise fix a prolapse?
- What is the correct exercise technique?
- How many exercises? How often?
- Common mistakes to avoid
- How long will it take to see exercise benefits?
Download Prolapse Exercise guidelines as a user friendly PDF by scrolling down page.
What is Prolapse Exercise?
Prolapse exercise is exercise designed to improve prolapse support and protect a prolapse from worsening. Prolapse exercises are specifically for the pelvic floor muscles and are known as pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises strengthen and help to restore the pelvic floor muscles.
Prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and tissues weaken and stretch. This decreases support for the bladder, uterus and bowel (pelvic organs). When these organs lose support they can prolapse or bulge into the walls of the vagina (cystocoele, rectocoele), move down into the vagina (uterine prolapse) and/or protrude from the rectum (rectal prolapse).
How Prolapse Exercise Helps
Prolapse exercise involves training and rehabilitating the pelvic floor muscles. Prolapse exercises aim to:
- Increase the strength and thickness of muscles for prolapse support;
- Lift the pelvic floor to sit higher within the pelvis; and
- Increase the stiffness of the pelvic floor making it more resistant to strain.
Pelvic floor exercises may assist prolapse sufferers in a number of ways:
- Reduce prolapse symptoms;
- Delay or avoid prolapse progression;
- Improve prolapse support following prolapse repair surgery;
- Improve bladder control; and
- Improve bowel emptying.
Who can Benefit from Prolapse Exercise?
Pelvic floor exercises can help to reduce and in some cases overcome prolapse symptoms in women with mild to moderate prolapse. It may well be that improving prolapse support can delay or avoid a prolapse from worsening.
Women with severe prolapse are prescribed pelvic floor exercises to improve the outcomes of prolapse repair surgery by improving pelvic floor support. Women with severe prolapse may benefit from strengthening their pelvic floor prior to prolapse surgery rather than waiting until after it has taken place.
Can Exercise fix my Prolapse?
No, it is not possible to completely fix a prolapse with pelvic floor exercise. A prolapse is like a hernia of the pelvic floor tissues. The only way to completely repair a prolapse is via prolapse surgery. Exercises can however improve prolapse symptoms and restore pelvic floor strength and support.
Prolapse Exercise Technique
Pelvic floor exercises for prolapse involve lifting and squeezing the pelvic floor muscles. This feels like and involves a lift and inwards squeeze of all three pelvic openings (vagina, urine tube/urethra and anus).
Exercises for prolapse feel like:
- Lifting and squeezing in and around the anus or back passage as if trying to avoid passing wind;
- Lifting and squeezing inside the vagina; and
- Lifting and squeezing in and around the entrance to the urethra (urine tube) as if trying to stop or slow the flow of urine.
Tips for Prolapse Exercise
- Reposition your prolapse within your vagina before your exercises if it tends to protrude;
- Commence your exercises lying down to minimise drag on your pelvic floor;
- Attend to your posture, slumped posture decreases the effectiveness of pelvic support exercises;
- Practice your exercises at the start of the day when your prolapse will not be dragging as much as at the end of the day; and
- Using a vaginal pessary may help to lift the prolapsed tissues off the pelvic floor, thereby making pelvic floor exercises easier to perform with a prolapse.
How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises? How Often?
- Pelvic floor exercises for prolapse support should be performed daily;
- Aim to perform up to 8 pelvic floor exercises in a row;
- Try to maintain each exercise for up to 10 seconds;
- Relax and rest your pelvic floor muscles between every attempt; and
- Repeat this up to 3 times daily for a maximum of 24 daily exercises.
When starting out
If your pelvic floor is weak it is unlikely that you will be able to initially perform this quantity of exercise. Focus upon using the correct technique and maintaining your pelvic floor muscle contraction for as long as you are able to do so. For some women this will initially be for 1-2 seconds a time. Gradually build up the duration of your pelvic floor muscle exercises and the number you can perform in a row as your strength improves over time.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Pushing the pelvic floor down rather than lifting it up;
- Breath holding during pelvic exercises – breathe normally throughout; and
- Squeezing the buttocks and thighs instead of the inner pelvic floor muscles.
How Long to Strengthen?
It can take up to 5-6 months of regular exercise to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles. Some women start to notice that their prolapse symptoms start to decrease 3-4 weeks of daily pelvic floor exercise
Pelvic floor exercises for improved prolapse support will only benefit women with intact pelvic floor muscles. Women with prolapse who do not notice any improvement in their pelvic floor strength, and those who are unable to contract their pelvic floor muscles should seek pelvic floor rehabilitation treatment from a trained health professional.
Download Prolapse Exercise guidelines as a user friendly PDF
‘Prolapse Exercise’ is by Michelle Kenway, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Michelle is the author of the internationally acclaimed guide for women Inside Out – the essential women’s guide to pelvic support
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