How Safe is Planking Exercise For Your Prolapse?

Planking exercise

Should you modify or avoid Planking exercise?

Is The Plank safe for your pelvic floor?

There’s a great deal of confusion about the safety of Planking exercise for women with prolapse and after pelvic surgery.


Read on now to learn:

  1. What Planking is
  2. Prolapse symptoms with the Plank
  3. Who should be cautious doing Planking exercise
  4. Latest research into abdominal curl exercises and pelvic floor
  5. How to modify the Plank
  6. When to avoid Planking

1. What is Planking Exercise?

Plank is a core strength exercise that typically involves supporting the body weight above the ground by weight bearing through the forearms and feet with the trunk.

Which Muscles Are Strengthened?

Planking exercise aims strengthen the muscles around the trunk that support the spine; the abdominal and spinal muscles in particular.

Additional muscles are strengthened during this exercise including muscles of the shoulder girdle, chest, middle back, thighs and calves.

Plank exercise

2. Prolapse Symptoms With Plank

Some (not all) women with prolapse problems say that Planking exercise reproduces some of their prolapse symptoms including:

  1. Vaginal heaviness
  2. Bulging
  3. Dragging.

These symptoms may occur during the Plank and sometimes for days afterwards.

Women that tend to report symptoms with the Plank include women with:

  • Moderate-severe prolapse
  • History of prolapse surgery
  • Pelvic floor weakness
  • Body weight problems

3. Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

  • Prolapse
  • After prolapse surgery
  • Pelvic pain conditions
  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
  • Previous childbirth
  • Overweight.

4. Latest Research Into Abdominal Curl Exercises

New research1 confirms that the pelvic floor moves downwards when exercising women perform abdominal curl exercises (shown below).

This downward pelvic floor movement was found to be significantly greater in women who had given birth when compared with those who had not.

Abdominal curl exercise

The Plank and abdominal curl exercises both involve strong contractions of the outer abdominal muscles including the ‘6 pack’ muscles. These strong outer abdominal muscles are known to increase pressure within the abdomen down onto the pelvic floor.

What This Research Suggests For Intense Abdominal Core Exercises With Prolapse

If your pelvic floor moves down, so too does your prolapse. Repeated downward or forceful movement of prolapsed tissues could forseeably cause prolapse symptoms and perhaps worsen prolapse severity.

This is why intense core abdominal exercises including abdominal curls or Planking are inappropriate for women with prolapse problems.

5. How To Modify Planking

Modifying the Plank may allow some women to perform it without experiencing prolapse symptoms.

Planking exercise can be modified by:

Modified Planking exercise

  • Kneeling rather than weight bearing through your feet and forearms (shown above)
  • Activating the abdominal muscles gently rather than forcefully
  • Activating the pelvic floor muscles throughout the exercise
  • Avoiding too many repeated Plank exercises
  • Doing short duration Planking exercises – the ideal length of time to hold the Plank exercise is different for every woman
  • Avoiding this exercise with your forearms on an unstable surface i.e. exercise ball

When Should You Avoid Planking Exercise?

Unfortunately modifying Plank exercise doesn’t always make it appropriate core exercise for all women.

Avoid Plank

Choose an alternative pelvic floor safe abdominal exercise if:

  • Plank exercise reproduces your pelvic floor symptoms
  • Your pelvic floor is weak
  • You’ve had prolapse surgery
  • You’re pregnant
  • You’ve recently given birth
  • You strain with effort
  • You’re overweight

There are numerous pelvic floor safe core abdominal exercises that will help you tone your core and protect your pelvic floor from injury.

Key Points For Planking Exercise

  • Planking is an intense abdominal core exercise
  • Recent research confirms that abdominal curl exercises cause greatest downward movement in the pelvic floor who have given birth
  • Planking exercise can be modified to a manageable level of pelvic floor loading in some women with prolapse
  • Some women report increased prolapse symptoms associated with modified Plank – these women will likely benefit from avoiding Plank exercise in favour of alternative pelvic floor safe abdominal exercises.

Further Information & Videos

» 3 Pelvic Floor Safe Core Exercises

Prolapse Exercises Book

Professional exercise guidance for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely, reduce the risk of prolapse worsening and improve prolapse support.

prolapse exercises

Learn how to:

  • Avoid unsafe exercises
  • Choose pelvic floor safe exercises
  • Relieve prolapse symptoms
  • Reduce your risk of prolapse worsening
  • Improve prolapse support
  • Increase your strength and fitness
  • Recover after prolapse surgery
  • Return to exercise safely
  • Strengthen your core
  • Lose weight

    Learn More

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Michelle lectures to health professionals and promotes community health through her writing, radio segments, online exercise videos and community presentations. She holds dual post graduate physiotherapy qualifications in women’s health and exercise.

1Barton, Serrao, Thompson & Briffa. Transabdominal ultrasound to assess pelvic floor muscle performance during abdominal curl in exercising women. Int Urogynecol J. 2015 Jul 28.


We Welcome Your Comments



  1. Allison Bryant says

    Great post Michelle!

  2. Michelle,

    Is lap swimming perfectly ok with a prolapse? I need to find a way to do cardio now that I can’t run. Do I have to swim slowly or can I lap swim with some intensity? Are certain strokes bad for someone with a prolapse? I need a way to get an intense workout without bothering or worsening the prolapsed organs. I have your book, but I am wondering if you can suggest other ways of achieving an intense cardio workout that won’t compromise/worsen POP.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Katie
      I need a post on swimming as there are so many enquiries about prolapse and swimming. Yes swimming is a great low impact cardio exercise. At this stage there’s so little research into the effect of various exercises on prolapse problems and nothing on swimming. I would be inclined to avoid intense butterfly that is quite intense on the core otherwise I don’t see that swimming with intensity would pose a pelvic floor risk. I would love to hear back from you in time to let us know how you go. I would start gradually stroke by stroke and watch out for prolapse symptoms during/after swimming so that you can narrow things down if symptoms do occur.
      Stay in touch Katie

  3. thanks for the information on prolapse

  4. Hi Michelle…..I am a 77yr. old woman with the start of incontinence. I have looked throughout your site and some videos, but I am confused as which one is good to help me with my pelvic floor strengthening. I have had 4 children, all c-sections, a hysterectomy, and a left kidney removed. Hence my stomach muscles are rather weak. I truly am looking for your pelvic floor exercise to strengthen it so it will help with my incontinence. Help!!!!
    Thanks so much for any help.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Rose

      Pelvic floor exercises are a good place for you to start. You may choose to see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist to help you if you would like Professional assistance.

      Otherwise if you’re looking for a simple program to do at home you might like the Pelvic Floor Exercises Daily Workout CD. This is an audio program that guides you step by step through finding your pelvic floor muscles and then exercising them every day. Let me know if you need any further guidance Rose. I hope this helps you get started.


  5. I have symptoms of prolapse and am waiting surgery for a posterior repair and have been swimming as exercise. I have found that it made things worse if I swam hard or for too long. In fact I haven’t found any cardio type exercise possible really, at least not if I wanted to get my heart rate up for 1/4 hour or so. I don’t have very bad symptoms either compared to what I have heard from reading. I would love some advice on how to stay fit with this condition.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Patsy

      Yes staying fit can be one of the challenges of dealing with a severe prolapse. Have you tried stationary cycle? Using either an upright cycle or a recumbent cycle can both be great alternatives for some great cardio fitness exercise. Interval training on the bike is also a great way of getting your heart rate up for short duration. Water walking can also be a great form of fitness exercise. You might like to read this post on fitness exercises for prolapse. I hope this gives you some more ideas for moving forwards.

      All the best

  6. Kathleen says

    I’ve had three births vaginally, two requiring stitches. I am 70, a kayaker, out of action with shoulder problems, also a bushwalker with bad knees and bladder prolapse so not doing much walking. I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago. I have recovered from lumpectomy and radiotherapy this year. I’m soon to have an anterior and posterior pelvic floor repair operation. Will I be able to return to to my favourite physical activities when I recover from surgery? I really want to get back in the kayak.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Kathleen
      This really depends on what your favourite activities are and how well your pelvic floor is working to withstand the associated pressure. Kayaking would need to be slow and gentle to avoid placing too much strain through your pelvic floor. Prolapse surgery increases the risk of future pelvic floor problems, and hysterectomy may well add to the risk of future prolapse and bladder control problems. I hope your surgery has been a success! Michelle

Pelvic Exercises Physiotherapy


to our free monthly newsletter​

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.