This 10 step guide helps you reduce your risk of pelvic floor overload doing your housework.
While many everyday chores will pose minimal risk to your pelvic floor, some home chores involving heavy physical work may pose a pelvic floor risk.
This information is most relevant to women at increased risk of pelvic floor overload with heavy physical work including:
- Symptomatic prolapse
- Previous prolapse surgery
- Pelvic floor weakness
- Current pregnancy
- Recent childbirth
- Pelvic pain
1. Avoid Heavy Lifting
Avoid heavy lifting, pushing, pulling that makes you strain. Every woman has her own individual capacity for lifting – know your safe lifting limit and keep the weight you lift within these limits.
Work out ways to reduce the load that you need to lift. This might be as simple as filling your shopping into a number of bags rather than one large bag.
2. Use Correct Lifting Technique
When you need to lift use the safe lifting technique; move close to the object, adopt a lunge position, bend your knees keeping your back straight, contract your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift, carry the object close to your body.
Lift with your legs rather than bending from the waist. Lunge rather than squat deeply to move things off the ground.
3. Lift From Waist Height
Minimise lifting from ground level which involves bending from your waist. For example sitting the laundry basket on a table or trolley as you hang out the washing can help you avoid repeated forwards bending.
4. Work at Waist Height
Working at waist height helps you maintain good posture and optimise your pelvic floor support.
Ironing is best done in a position that allows you to keep your back straight. Some women with pelvic floor problems opt sit to do their ironing rather than prolonged standing.
5. Kneel for Low Chores
There are some chores that require working at low heights such as using the dustpan and broom, cleaning the bath or scrubbing the shower. Kneel to do cleaning jobs at ground level rather than bending from your waist.
Kneeling or working on your hands and knees will help you protect against pelvic floor overload and lower back problems while you work.
6. Keep Your Back Straight
Try to keep your spine upright using correct upright posture when you’re working.
When sweeping or vacuuming stand upright in a lunge position and use a lunging action bending your front knee and moving your hips forwards to perform the action rather than bending forwards from your waist. This will protect your back and optimise your pelvic supports.
7. Schedule Your Tasks
Many of us like to get the housework all over and done with at once however this approach doesn’t always work well for women with pelvic floor weakness.
If you have a number of heavy tasks ahead try to schedule them up to allow yourself a rest between activities or better still spread the tasks over the course of the week rather than doing all your work at once.
8. Know Your Energy Levels
Your pelvic floor is less fatigued at the start of your day and this can be the best time for some women to go about their tasks.
If you’re troubled by prolapse symptoms for if you’ve had recent prolapse surgery do the housework work that needs to be done at the start of your day rather than when your pelvic floor is fatigued.
9. Enlist Support
Enlist the help of others where you can to help you manage the load of your regular activities, especially if you’ve undergone pelvic floor surgery or if you’re a new mum.
Delegate heavy chores such as carrying the shopping from the car to the house or taking out the rubbish to others where you can.
10. Take a Break
The risk of pelvic floor overload can increase when you’re tired, with lower back pain or if you’re unwell because your pelvic floor muscles work less effectively.
Listen to your body and try not to ignore fatigue, prolapse symptoms or back pain. Symptoms are your body’s way of telling you to slow down or stop. if you’re not feeling well take a break, put your feet up or do the minimum amount possible to get by. Your household chores will always be there for another day!
Following these 10 simple guidelines can help you reduce your risk of pelvic floor overload doing your everyday housework chores.
with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway
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