Modified Deadlift for Women With Prolapse or After Hysterectomy

Modified deadlift is a helpful exercise to know for exercising safely with prolapse problems or after a hysterectomy,

Deadlift is a strengthening exercise for the lower back, buttocks and thighs. It’s a highly effective exercise however pelvic floor and/or lower back injury can result when performed using  inappropriate technique.

Deadlift is easily modified to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor (and lower back).

This Physiotherapist video demonstrates 2 modified deadlift techniques (barbell and dumbbell) that reduce the risk of pelvic floor injury when compared with traditional technique.

Suitability: Beginners to intermediate strengthening

 Video duration: 4.48 mins

Please scroll down for written guidelines for modifying and correctly performing the deadlift exercise and protecting your pelvic floor.

Benefits of Modified Deadlift

When performed well, deadlift is an effective exercise for strengthening and toning:

  • Hips and buttocks
  • Lower and upper back
  • Thighs

Benefits of modifying the deadlift include:

  • Strengthening and toning the buttocks, back and thighs
  • Promoting improved bone health in the hips and lower back
  • Reducing pelvic floor strain to reduce the risk of prolapse or prolapse worsening
  • Decreasing the risk of lower back injury
  • Minimizing strain on the upper back

Traditional Deadlift Barbell Technique

Deadlift is commonly performed using a barbell in the gym.

Traditional deadlift technique usually involves:

  • Standing close to the bar placed at ground level
  • Positioning the body with feet wide apart stance
  • Reaching forward and grabbing the bar with hands approximately shoulder width apart
  • Taking the tension of the bar through the shoulders and upper back before lifting
  • Keeping the chest raised while lifting the barbell
  • Maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back during the movement
  • Lowering the plates to touch the ground before repeating the next lift

How to Modify Deadlift to Minimise Pelvic Floor Strain

1.Modified Barbell Deadlift

Starting Out

  1. Use an unweighted barbell or barbell weighted with light plates. Make sure that the weight you lift is manageable and doesn’t cause you to strain during lifting.
  2. You may choose to stand side on to a mirror to check that your spine stays straight with an inward lower back curve during this exercise.


  • Stand close to the bar
  • Start standing with your feet slightly apart rather than wide apart
  • Reach forward and grabbing the bar with hands approximately shoulder width apart
  • Lift the bar off an elevated bench rather than from ground level
  • Take the tension of the bar through the shoulders and upper back before lifting
  • Keep your chest raised while lifting the bar
  • Breathe out while lifting the bar
  • Lower the bar keeping it close to the front of the thighs no lower than knee level
  • Breathe out while lowering the bar
  • Maintain the normal inward curve in the lower back during the whole movement


Progress the number of repetitions and then the weight as your form and strength improve over time.

2. Modified Dumbbell Deadlift

The modified barbell deadlift can be performed in the gym or at home.


Modified dumbbell deadlift technique involves:

  • Starting out using very light dumbbells ensuring that the weights don’t cause you strain
  • Standing with your feet slightly apart
  • Holding the dumbbells beside your outer thighs with straight arms and palms facing backwards
  • Keeping your chest raised throughout
  • Breathing in while lowering the dumbbells
  • Keeping the dumbbells next to your outer thighs as you lower them towards your knees (no lower than knee level)
  • Breathing out while returning to standing
  • Maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back throughout


The number of repetitions and the size of the weight can be gradually progressed as your form and strength improve over time.

Key Points for Modifying Deadlift

  • Modified deadlift can be performed using a barbell or dumbbells
  • Avoid wide leg stance
  • Keep the size of the weight manageable and always avoid strain for safe lifting
  • Breathe out as you return to standing from the lean forward position
  • Avoid leaning too far forward – bending forwards increases pelvic floor loading
  • Use knee level as your forward reaching limit when lowering your weight
  • Maintain the normal inward curve in the lower back throughout.

Further Reading

» Safe Lifting Weight Limit With Prolapse or After Hysterectomy

» Best Exercise to Lose Weight After Hysterectomy or Prolapse Surgery

» How to Modify Plank Exercise for Safer Core Strengthening

» Search bike Stationary Bike Set Up for Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise & Weight Loss

Pelvic Floor Safe Workout Saver Pack – DVD or Video Download/Live Stream

This Physiotherapist directed workout pack is especially for women seeking to exercise safely, strengthen the core and protect the pelvic floor from strain or injury.

This workout is suitable for women with pelvic floor problems including mild-moderate prolapse, after a hysterectomy or with incontinence problems.

Benefits include: 

The Workout DVD Pack helps you exercise safely and reduces your risk of worsening pelvic floor problems with inappropriate exercises and includes:

  • Strengthening & toning hips, butt and thighs
  • Strengthening back muscles
  • Strengthening abdominal core & pelvic floor muscles
  • Improving upright posture to reduce slumped posture
  • Managing body weight
  • Motivating exercise
  • Improving your flexibility


Learn More




  1. Hi! I have just recently found your site. It’s very informative. I’m going to try to incorporate your pelvic floor exercises in my recovery. I do have a a question though…..Is it safe to do lunges, squats and hip thrusts after a hysterectomy? I’m 2 weeks post operation for a robotic assisted laparoscopic abdominal hysterectomy. I was working out with weights prior to surgery and I would like to start back. I know I’m going to have to do little to no weights for awhile and I’m ok with that.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Jamie
      Lunges and hip thrusts shouldn’t be a problem, squats may need modification depending on how well your pelvic floor is working. Squats are modified by avoiding squatting too deeply with wide leg stance and a heavy load. Make sure you get your surgeon’s approval to return to general exercise before recommencing at the gym. Insital healing takes 6 weeks and complete healing of scar tissue 3 months and care must be taken during this time. All the best for your recovery Jamie

  2. Hi Michelle its ten week since my vaginal vault repair. (3rd time lucky hopefully) I haven’t had a follow up appointment yet. I have used all your wonderful advise to ensure good result. I am walking most days for about 30 to 40 minutes. Started back swimming this week.
    I have felt very well and not tired.
    When do you think i can return to some light gym work. Such as cross trainer 15 minutes. Some stretching and any other light gym exercise following your advise or am i starting this too soon. Would welcome your thoughts.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Mary
      It’s great to read that you’re recovering so well. In your situation with this being your third repair wait until you’ve had your follow up appointment with your specialist before commencing gym work, this appointment must be fairly soon? Very light stretching for the calves, hamstrings, postural muscles (chest and shoulders) should be fine. Avoid abdominal and lower back stretches at this stage. Even though it’s 10 weeks post op. your tissues are still healing so take things very slowly. When you do return to gym you will need to progress very gradually as you’re no doubt aware. I hope you have a really good return to exercise. Oh and avoid hard kicking in the water at the moment, keep to light flutter kick if anything or water walking. All the best

  3. Hi
    I have a question, you say in the video. ” The further you lean forward the more pressure is place on the pelvic floor.” You also state the wider your legs are apart the more pressure on the pelvic floor.
    I like to use a 4kg kettle bell. The kettle bell is usually swung between the thighs I have often wondered if this exercise puts pressure on the pelvic floor.
    Is it possible to use a Kettle bell safely?


    • Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Vanessa
      I would leave our kettlebell swings with prolapse/pelvic floor problems in favour of modified deadlift which work the glutes, thighs and back. Kettlebell swings work the glutes, hips, back and shoulders. You could also do seated lat pulldown for your lats and hamstring curls for the back of your thighs if this is what you’re trying to work too. Hope this helps!

Pelvic Exercises Physiotherapy


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