Do you use the Leg Press Machine?
Perhaps you’ve been prescribed Leg Press exercises and you’re feeling unsure?
You’ll usually find at least one Leg Press in most gyms. Unfortunately this machine can increase the risk of a range of pelvic floor problems (along with other injuries too!).
This video teaches you some of the injury risks associated with Leg Press Machine exercises along with how to modify it for your pelvic floor if you really need to use it.
Video suitability: general
Duration: 3 minutes
Please scroll down below this video for more Physiotherapy information and safety tips.
What Is The Leg Press Machine?
The Leg Press is a machine designed to strengthen the lower limbs.
This machine involves extending the legs and hips against a load positioned under the feet.
What Are The Potential Benefits?
The Leg Press machine can provide a number of physical strengthening benefits for:
- Lower limb muscles – primarily the front of the thigh muscles (quadriceps) as well as the back of thigh (hamstrings), buttocks and calf muscles
- Lower limb bones – hips, thighs and lower legs
Potential Injuries Using The Leg Press
Extending the legs against resistance using the Leg Press Machine increases loading and pressure on the pelvic floor, knees and lower back. If the pressure is too great for the tissues to withstand, injury can result.
1. Pelvic Floor Injuries
Forcefully extending the legs against resistance increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor – the greater the strain the greater the downward pressure.
If the load or weight is excessive or repeated, the pressure on the pelvic floor forces the pelvic floor muscles and tissues downwards causing them to stretch and weaken. This means that problems can arise from one episode of heavy loading or with repeated loading.
When the pelvic floor muscles are overstretched, they weaken and the risk of pelvic floor problems increases for problems such as pelvic organ prolapse, rectal prolapse and bladder or bowel control problems.
2. Knee And Back Injuries
The Leg Press action increases the load on the lower back and the knees.
The lower back discs and soft tissues can be injured with forceful leg extension using heavy loading, poor posture and large range of movement involved in bringing the knees close to the trunk.
The knee tissues and cartilage are vulnerable to injury with Leg Press, particularly with deep knee bending action where the knees track well in front of the ankles or with locking the knees when the legs are extended.
How To Modify Leg Press To Reduce Pelvic Floor Loading
If you’re at increased risk of pelvic floor problems avoid the Leg Press where possible in favor pelvic floor safe leg strengthening exercises such as mini squats.
Here are a few tips to help you minimize the risk to your pelvic floor (and lower back) if you’re confident that your pelvic floor is strong and functioning well.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles during this exercise
- Maintain good posture keeping inward curve in your lower back throughout
- Always keep the load or resistance manageable – never strain!
- Breathe out with the effort of pressing the weight
- Avoid knees close to your chest position – work your legs in the outer range
- Avoid high repetitions
Key Points for Leg Press Machine Exercise
The Leg Press Machine is NOT appropriate for women with or at risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Leg Press can increase the risk of pelvic floor weakness, stretch and overload.
- Injury can result from a single episode of heavy loading or repeated moderate loading
- Choose pelvic floor safe leg strengthening alternative exercises.
- Modifications can help to reduce loading on the pelvic floor for women with strong, well functioning pelvic floor muscles