5 Tummy Toning Core Exercises for Women with Prolapse

Tummy toning exercises
Are you looking for safe core exercises to tone your tummy?

Do you feel confused about how to strengthen your core and avoid prolapse worsening?

Well look no further – this quick routine of pelvic floor safe core exercises will help you tone your tummy, strengthen your core and protect your prolapse!

5 Tummy Toning Abdominal Core Exercises for Women

These 5 core exercises are pelvic floor safe alternatives to some of the more intense abdominal core exercises.

These core exercises gently strengthen and tone the abdominal core muscles while placing minimal pressure on the pelvic floor.

Core Exercise 1 – Seated Ball Knee Lifts

Seated ball knee lifts look deceptively easy. In actual fact doing this exercise correctly requires good deep abdominal core muscle control.

  • Sit tall on a chair or exercise ball
  • Activate your abdominal muscles
    Seated Ball Knee Lifts
  • Hold onto the side of the ball with your fingertips
  • Slowly raise your left knee to lift your right foot just off the ground
  • Keep your abdominal muscles gently activated
  • Lower your foot back to the ground
  • Relaxing your abdominal muscles back to resting
  • Repeat up to 10 knee lifts on the same side
  • Repeat with your right leg

Tips for Seated Ball Knee Lifts

  • Try to stay evenly balanced through your sitting bones throughout this exercise
  • To progress seated ball knee lifts:
    • reduce your grip on the ball from fingertips to one finger and then no hands
    • alternate your knee lifts from one leg to the other leg keeping stable throughout

Core Exercise 2 – Women’s Push Ups

Women’s push ups are a great pelvic floor safe strength exercise that strengthen and tone your abdominal core muscles along with your chest and shoulders. If you are prone to shoulder or knee problems standing wall push ups are a suitable alternative position to consider.

  • Kneel on all fours

    Women's Push Ups

    Women’s Push Ups

  • Place your hands directly below your shoulders
  • Position your knees directly under your hips
  • Gently activate your lower abdominal muscles
  • Maintain your normal spinal curve throughout
  • Bend your elbows to lower your nose down towards the ground between your hands
  • Breathe out as you raise straighten your elbows and return to starting position
  • Repeat this exercise up to 10 times in a row

Tips for Women’s Push Ups

  • Avoid straining and avoid holding your breath when doing push ups
  • If your knees are sore use a cushion under your knees or alternatively perform a standing wall push up
  • Progress women’s push ups by lowering your nose down towards the ground in front of your hands to make a triangle shape – your hands form the base and your nose forms the tip of the triangle

Core Exercise 3 – Alternate Arm and Leg Raises

Alternate arm and leg raises are great for toning the abdomen and strengthening the spine. If you are prone to knee pain and wish to avoid kneeling this core exercise can also be performed lying prone or face down with the arms and legs extended.

  • Kneel on all fours

    Alternate Arm and Leg Raises

    Alternate Arm and Leg Raises

  • Place your hands beneath your shoulders
  • Position your knees beneath your hips
  • Gently engage your deep abdominal muscles and maintain this contraction throughout
  • Extend your left leg behind your body and raise your left foot off the ground
  • Your left heel should be no higher than your left buttock
  • Reach your right arm in front of your body no higher than shoulder height
  • Aim for stability and control holding this position for up to 10 seconds at a time
  • Repeat on alternate sides

Tips for Alternate Arm and Leg Raises

  • Keep your chin tucked throughout this exercise to avoid neck strain
  • Breathe normally throughout this core exercise
  • Progress alternate arm and leg raises by:
    • maintaining your arm and leg extended position for longer holds up to 20-30 seconds at a time
    • lifting and lowering your alternate arm and leg repeatedly up to 10 times in a row each side while maintaining your abdominal muscle contraction throughout

Core Exercise 4 – Bent Knee Fall Outs

Bent knee fallouts are another deceptively simple yet effective safe abdominal core exercise for women. When performed correctly this exercise tones the appearance of the lower abdomen and strengthens the core abdominal muscles.

  • Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat

    Bent Knee Fallout

    Bent Knee Fallouts

  • Keep the normal inward curve in your lower back throughout
  • Gently activate your deep abdominal core muscles
  • Imagine balancing a glass of water on your right knee which should not move
  • Maintain your abdominal contraction as you lower your left knee sideways just until your pelvis starts to roll to the left*
  • Return the left knee to starting position and relax your abdominal muscles
  • Repeat this exercise up to 10 times in a row for each leg

*This is a very small outward movement of the knee -you will be unlikely to be able to move your knee far before your pelvis starts to roll towards the left. As soon as you feel your pelvis start to move lift your leg back to starting position.

Tips for Bent Knee Fall Outs

  • If you can’t feel your pelvis moving as you move your leg to the side, place your hands on your pelvic bones throughout this exercise. This will help you feel whether any unwanted movement is occurring
  • Breathe normally throughout this exercise
  • Avoid over bracing your abdominal muscles by contracting them too strongly
  • With improved abdominal muscle control you may like to progress this exercise by lower your knee further sideways maintaining your abdominal contraction through out

Core Exercise 5 – Single Leg Raises

Single leg raise provides you with a pelvic floor safe exercise alternative to double leg raises that are frequently performed in women’s exercise classes. This exercise helps you tone and strengthen your deep abdominal core muscles and in doing so helps you flatten the appearance of your tummy and improve your spinal support.

  • Starting lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground

    Single Leg Raise

    Single Leg Raise

  • Keep the normal inward curve in your lower back throughout
  • Gently activate your deep abdominal core muscles
  • Keep your abdominal muscles gently contracted as you raise your bent right knee off the ground
  • When you feel the your lower back start to flatten lower your knee back to starting position
  • Repeat your knee raise exercises up to 10 times in a row for each leg

Tips for Single Leg Raises

  • Lift and lower your knee slowly
  • Avoid flattening your lower back as you raise your leg
  • Breathe normally throughout the exercise

How to use these 5 Core Exercises?

  • As a convenient 15 minute daily home abdominal core exercise routine; or
  • Substitute any of the following core exercises to modify intense abdominal exercises e.g. modify The Plank

Unsafe Core Exercises for Women and Prolapse

Core exercises help you train the muscles around your trunk – these muscles include your abdominal muscles. Research has shown that traditional abdominal curl exercises (sit ups) that train the strong upper abdominal muscles cause the pelvic floor to move downwards (shown right) in women who have had a vaginal delivery.1

Pelvic Floor Moves Downwards

Pelvic floor moves downwards

Intense abdominal core exercises create downward pressure onto the pelvic floor. Women with prolapse problems have pelvic floor weakness – this makes them vulnerable to further pelvic floor damage with intense core exercises.

When the pelvic floor is weak it has difficulty withstanding downward pressure. During intense core exercises the weak pelvic floor is repeatedly forced downwards causing pelvic floor stretch, strain and further weakness.

This is why intense core exercises are unsafe for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery.

Key Points for Safe Abdominal Core Exercises

If you have prolapse problems it is likely that your pelvic floor is weak. This makes your pelvic floor susceptible to pelvic floor damage with intense core abdominal exercises.

Reduce your risk of prolapse injury by:

  • Avoiding intense core abdominal exercises
  • Breathing normally throughout your exercises
  • Avoiding over bracing your abdominal muscles
  • Maintaining the normal inward curve in your lower back
  • Relaxing your abdominal muscles and allowing for recovery
  • Focusing on the quality of your core exercises rather than quantity

Following these simple guidelines will help you keep the intensity of your core exercises manageable for your pelvic floor to reduce your risk of prolapse worsening or repeat prolapse occurring.


prolapse exercises

with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway

Learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your prolapse and reduce your risk of repeat prolapse.

Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.




1 Thompson J, O’Sullivan P, Briffa N and Neumann P (2007) Comparison of transperineal and transabdominal ultrasound in the assessment of voluntary pelvic floor muscle contractions and functional manoeuvres in continent and incontinent women. International Urogynaecology Journal, Jul;18(7):779-86.


  1. Hi Michelle, You may not remember me but we did chat online quite some time ago. I think now I may have reached a level of feeling that I can tackle some fairly simple exercises at last. Your type of exercises I think will suit me just fine and I will ease into them gradually.
    Alyssa Tait (lovely lady) who you recommended to me did her very best to help me with the adhesions but I think it has been the treatment with the Freeze Dried Aloe Vera from Desert Harvest in America that had got the Interstitial Cystitis and a big part of the pain under some sort of control.
    I still have a period of about an hour in the morning when I am out of action but then seem to be able to get up and continue on with a fairly active day most of the time.
    Sorry I didn’t mean to ramble on and simply wanted to say thank you for continuing to post your information.
    All the best

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Thank you Evon yes I do remeber you and I am really glad to hear that you have found a solution to help you manage your IC. How interesting, how do you use the Dried Aloe Vera?


  2. Irene Hills says:

    Hi Michelle, I have just looked at your latest email. In the tummy Toning Core excercises

    you say “If you are prone to shoulder or knee problems standing wall push ups are a suitable alternative position to consider.”

    Could you demonstrate a wall push up please? Not sure what you mean or how to?

    Irene H.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Irene

      Maybe I can elaborate a little better on wall push ups here, my apologies I haven’t got a video to post just at the moment. Hope this helps you out

      Wall Push Ups
      Great for core strengthening as well as chest, shoulder and wrist strengthening in women


      • Stand facing a wall and position your body about arms length away (not a door which might open)
      • Place your hands apart on the wall at shoulder height (or slightly lower with sore shoulders)
      • Position your feet about hip width apart


      • Lower your forehead towards the wall by bending your elbows
      • Try to maintain shoulders back and down as you do so
      • Extend your elbows to return to starting position
      • Stay strong and straight through your trunk thoughout this exercise
      • Breathe out as you press your body back away from the wall

      To Progress Wall Push Up
      Take your feet further back from the wall (only if your pelvic floor is strong)
      Perform the exercise with heels raised off the ground weightbearing through the balls of the feet (advanced only)

      To Modify Wall Push Ups (for pelvic floor or shoulder problems)
      Start with your feet closer to the wall

  3. Robin De Danann says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I was excited to see the beautiful purple bellydance hipscarf at the top of your newsletter! But then couldn’t find any comment on bellydance as a prolapse-safe form of exercise. I’m really curious what your take is on bellydance as far as prolapse safety. In my experience as a woman with prolapse who has been teaching bellydance for 12 years, I’ve found that bellydance has safe-guarded my prolapse by strengthing all the muscles surrounding and supporting the pelvic floor. Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thank you for all your efforts to educate and inspire women toward greater self-care. Keep up the excellent and very important work!

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Robin

      Thanks so much for your comment & kind words, much appreciated. Yes I saw the image and the same thought struck me about bellydancing and the pelvic floor. I have heard some comments that bellydancing can improve coordinated abdominal and pelvic floor muscle control however I have just run a quick search and I cannot find research into belly dancing and the pelvic floor.

      I do think that some belly dancing techniques such as forceful abdominal hollowing along with breath holding may have the potential to increase downward pressure onto the pelvic floor. On the flip side I would also think that belly dancing may assist women in coordinated control and strengthening of the muscles around the trunk including the abdominal muscles in particular. I would think side to side pelvic tilting would not impact forcefully upon the pelvic floor. It would be intersting to see research into the pelvic floor strength and control of women who regualrly participate in belly dancing.

      Ultimately I think like many forms of exercise, the impact upon the pelvic floor is determinded by the actual manoeuvres involves combined with the individual’s strength and capacity to withstand the associated pressure, this definitely warrants some more investigation Robin leave it with me.

      What are your inpressions of bellydancing and the abdomen/pelvic floor from your personal experience?


      All the best

  4. gaileee says:

    So I’ve always been told it is very hard to get close to the floor, when doing modified planks, knees at that 90 degree angle, but to instead have the hips in alignment with the thighs. So regular yoga plank, but just with the knees lowered to the floor. How does that effect pelvic floor in that manner?


    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Gailee

      Modifying the Yoga Plank involves kneeling (with or without toes touching the ground) and weight bearing through the forearms rather than the hands (like push up position). Yes the lower or closer your hips are towards the ground the greater the intensity for the core abdominal muscles with the plank exercise.


  5. Am I able to run with a stage 1 bowel prolaspe and a stage 2 bladder prolaspe, or will it only make things worse… I want to get back into exercising and I just can’t walk I love to run so I’m finding it hard not too….can you help….

  6. Annette says:

    Michelle, thank you for the conscise instructions and explanations. I do not have prolapse, but I’m 58, have had 3 vaginal births, and would much rather be on the safe side. I am a yoga teacher, and most of my students are also women about my age, so rather safe than sorry is also the way I prefer to teach.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Thanks Annette

      I agree being proactive about prolapse is definitely the way to go, unfortuntaely many women don’t get told about or are unaware of the importance of prolapse prevention. You are in an excellent position to help pronmote the issue of pelvic floor safe Yoga to other women too.

      Thank you for your comment

      • Jaqueline says:

        Hello Michelle.

        Its just wonderful what you write and how you explain it easy to understand too.
        I have been looking for this information for many years.

        I suffer form a prolapse , I had 5 kids and 2 miscarriages within 7 years.

        My first 2 children were born in a hospital here in Pakistan, in which medical care, nutrition etc. is far below standard and training of medical staff is just a joke.

        I had been induced, lied flat on my back and had a episotomy twice which caused a prolapse first decrees.

        My last pregnancy almost killed me and after more than 13 hours of hard and difficult labor finally the child was born. she weight over 5kg and was almost 60cm long with 40cm head circumference!!! And I am 154cm.

        what that means to my cervix etc i don’t have to explain.

        I had been bedridden from wrong treatment and liability to get proper medical care and diagnostics anmd severe vertigo for many years/.

        Finally 2 years ago i began working out again.

        i used to be a fitness junkie but the climate her is very hot and humid and its difficult to exercise.

        I had actually learn to walk again is i had severe weakness and MS and Vitamin D deficiency, etc., So this is much better now.

        But i began to do my old body weight workouts and Pilates after reading much good about it.

        But now i can feel my uterus in my vagina easily and soft tissues are in my vagina too. much is due to the episotomy and the very bad stitching together which pulled down my cervix and womb! Anyway..

        When i squat, as we have squatting toilets were i live, i can feel my uterus opening and cervix bulging out or feel it with my fingers,. is this normal in this position?

        Now i read for help in this regard as medical we cant afford and surgery is not an option at all. I am so desperate.

        But i need help with sample exercises or perhaps one grate and compassionate lady could gift me this e book or give me free help.

        i am not a beggar or cheat but where i live, see the computer id location, we don’t have access to such orders and many thing do not reach us via online order or postage. Its stolen or blocked.

        if any body could help me i would be so grateful and happy. I don’t want this problem to worsen and i suffer a lot of pain and discomfort and as said quality medical help is not available here and very, very expensive just to get an appointment.

        thank you all really much.please help me


        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Jacqueline

          Thank you for sharing your story and experiences with childbirth and the medical care. We can sometimes take our Western medical services for granted and your story is an excellent reminder for many of us. It also reminds us of the trauma some women endure with childbirth, thank you Jacqueline.

          In reply to your question deep wide squatting will not be helpful with a uterine prolapse. The cervix usually sits approximately the 3rd or middle finger length high inside the vagina (around 7 cm). If the cervix can be felt lower this can be a sign of uterine prolapse.

          A good place to start will be with pelvic floor exercises Jacqueline, if you see our library on the home page you will see a category for pelvic exercises and the information will help you do your exercises. If you click on the prolapse link this will provide you with more prolapse exercise information. Finally I will contact you regarding accessing other assistance.

          Thanks again Jacqueline and feel most welcome to reply further as you need to

  7. Hi Michelle, I was diagnosed with bladder prolapse about a year ago, I wasn’t advised specifically how severe it is but the physio said it would not be possible to improve it with pelvic floor exercises, and it’s not causing me enough problems to have surgery. I was told my pelvic floor muscles are pretty strong and I was doing the exercises correctly, so have been carrying on with those. I was mainly advised to avoid high impact exercise as this was when I was experiencing my symptoms of leakage, and this would make the condition worse. I have been avoiding pilates classes having read your advice, and have instead been using your Inside Out DVD and have also tried the Tummy Toning exercises on your email, but I find these very easy and wondered whether you had any progressions from these; perhaps my abs are quite strong from many years of pilates, yoga and belly dancing, but I am wary of doing exercises which will put too much pressure on my pelvic floor.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Hazel

      Yes I understand your request. The intensity of the core exercises that are appropriate for your body does depend on the strength of your pelvic floor as you probably know. I think you are wise to avoid overloading your pelvic floor at this stage. How do you go with exercises like the modified kneeling plank (starting toes down) or side plank? These may be options appropriate for you if you can brace your pelvic floor muscles and avoid over bracing your abdominal muscles during these exercises.

      Don’t forget that the single leg raise Pilates-style abdominal core exercises are appropriate for most women too. I am back to making videos – would you like to see these in video format Hazel?

      Let me know (plus how you go with the modified Planks too)


      • Hi Michelle, thanks for your reply. I do side plank and regular plank quite often in yoga and I don’t feel that they are putting me under too much pressure – and I do brace my pelvic floor as you suggested. I am much more conscious of doing this, thanks to your advice. It would be great to see videos of the single leg raises too.



        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Consider it done Hazel, I will make a video of the safer options in the coming month – thank you for your input!
          Best wishes

  8. Hi,

    I had a tough delivery (3 hours of pushing!) and now suffer with what I believe is at least a slight vaginal prolapse. I’ve been doing pelvic exercises from a DVD, but I’m concerned because some of the exercises require me to flatten my lower back. Should I be avoiding this? To be specific, the exercises on this DVD claim to strengthen the pelvic floor…it does not say they are safe for women with prolapse. Please let me know if I should stop doing these exercises.


    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Kim
      Having the correct posture helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles most effectively regardless of whether for prolapse, after childbirth, with menopause etc. Research tells us that the correct posture for pelvic floor exercises with prolapse involves keeping a slight inward curve in the lower back. Flattening the back has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of the strength of the pelvic floor contraction so that this action will mean that pelvic floor exercises will be less effective than with the inwards curve maintained throughout.
      Good luck!

  9. Hi Michelle
    I have just had surgery for a prolapse, a Manchester repair which had to be done instead of a hysterectomy and anterior repair as my womb had adhered to my bladder. I was advised to do pelvic floor exercises as soon as I felt able and consider pilates. I am only in wk 3 and wondered if a kegel 8 electronic ultra 20 unit would benefit me in the future. I am 50 and have always tried to keep up with pelvic floor exercises but reading your blog have realised that my efforts to stay fit over the years have probably hindered my prolapse.
    I intend to use your advice but wondered whether additional support would help.
    Feeling quite low atm as so much conflicting advice and want to make sure I’m doing as much as I can to assist my recovery and long term maintenance.
    Your help would be greatly appreciated
    Many thanks Tracey

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Tracey

      The best way to start back with pelvic floor exercises is using active contractions rather than machine-based training which is contraindicated at this stage. Machines can help when the pelvic floor is so very weak that a contraction is barely possible. Otherwise start exercises lying down and progress gradually – this video gives you some tips on pelvic floor exercises after surgery

      The early days post repair can be really tough emotionally Tracey. Things will get a lot better from this point as your body heals. Take things steady, eat well, rest, walk in the sunshine and relax with your feet up doing things you enjoy that make you feel good.

      Wishing you all the best for your recovery

      • Dear Michelle, thank you so much for your reply, it means so much and I will take your advice. Once I’m past my recovery is it worth using/ investing in a machine? Or am I just as good with exercises. Many thanks again

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

          Hi Tracey
          You know I wouldn’t rush into it – it will depend on how your pelvic floor exercises are going at that time. If you’re doing ok there will be little to no benefit in exercising with a machine. I know at the moment you’re keen to really get yourself well & preventing future problems. Start with the basics and build up your strength and positions over time. Then see if you still need a machine i.e. if your pelvic floor is really weak and you’re challenged with your exercises. This would be at least 3 months down the track.

          Hope this helps & take care

          • Hi Michelle
            Thank you, I won’t rush into anything- probably just feeling a little anxious at the moment. Going to put my feet up and watch your video.
            Very many thanks

      • Hi Michelle
        Sorry to bother you again, but is it normal to find it difficult to release your pelvic floor muscles slowly? I’ve always tried to do them regularly over the years and although I can draw up gradually I have a tendency to release them much more quickly. Is there a technique to help?
        I look forward to hearing from you
        Many thanks

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

          Hi Tracey
          No problem, yes releasing quickly is a common problem and it usually happens with pelvic floor weakness. Lying down will reduce the effect of gravity and might make releasing slowly a little easier at first. It’s early days for you so take care not to overdo your pelvic floor exercises at this stage.

          • Hi Michelle
            Thank you for getting back to me, I have taken your advice and your video has been very helpful, so now doing exercises lying down, trying to focus on quality not quantity. Hoping that over the coming months my strength and control will improve.
            Being able to have someone to talk to has been a great relief and only wish we had someone here in the UK that was as knowledgeable and available as you have been.
            Many thanks again for helping an anxious patient.

          • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

            No problem at all Tracey. What you are experiencing is very normal and understandable in terms of your desire to avoid going through this again. Yes quality is the key and set yourself a reasonable time frame for rehab. The first 3 6 weeks are maximum protection to take slow with gentle walking and a lot of rest. The next 6 mths you’re still healing internally so take things slowly. It’s normal to feel tired and the fact that you’re out of your regular routine and socially isolated immediately post op means that you have more time to think about your pelvic floor. Try to set about doing some things you enjoy and establish a good routine with a balance of rest, gentle exercise and doing things that make you feel good. Things will get a whole lot better over the coming months as your body heals and you recover.
            Best wishes

          • Hi Michelle
            So lovely to hear from you. I can’t thank you enough!
            With thanks and best wishes

  10. I am so grateful for your work!

    A couple of questions: Are side planks okay? (For cystocele- don’t know what grade yet. I’ve got the appointment scheduled.)

    Are tricep chair dips okay?

    Low-impact jumping jacks and low-impact squat jacks okay?

    Thank you so much! Your work is a gift of love to the world.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Sonam

      Many thanks for your comment and kind words.

      Most women with mild prolapse don’t have an issue with side planks. I would leave tricep chair dips which involve lifting your upper body weight through your arms. Low-impact jumping jacks if you mean sidestep taps without jumping are fine. How do you do your low-impact squat jacks?



  1. […] treatment, or simply want to start with the basics and work up – we recommend checking out these 5 Tummy Toning Core Exercises that can accommodate women who are pregnant, who need to take it easy, or who haven’t exercised […]