7 Safe Lifting Techniques & Tips for Prolapse Protection

Safe Lifting Techniques

Safe lifting techniques for prolapse and after prolapse surgery can help women with long-term prolapse management. Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid lifting which is often a big problem for women with prolapse problems. Many women notice their prolapse symptoms worsen with lifting and heavy lifting is a known risk factor for prolapse.

This article helps you manage your prolapse and reduce your risk of prolapse strain with safe lifting techniques and tips to protect your pelvic floor.

1. Lifting Load

Ensure that the load that you move is always manageable for your body. The load that you lift, lower, push or pull should never make you strain with effort. There can never be one safe weight limit for lifting for all women, since women differ with regards to their individual risk factors for prolapse. Risk factors that can impact upon the pelvic floor with lifting include general physical strength, pelvic floor strength and support, prolapse surgery and abdominal body fat. Pack small quantities in shopping bags, use trolleys and seek assistance to avoid lifting heavy loads.

2. Lifting Height

The height from which you lift is important for protecting your prolapse. Aim to keep lifting from waist to shoulder height where possible. Lifting from ground level involves bending forwards and increases the downward pressure on the pelvic floor (and prolapse/prolapse repair). Try to consider the height from which you lift during your everyday activities for example using a trolley for your washing basket helps to keep lifting at waist height and minimise forwards bending to and from ground level. Avoiding lifting from below knee and above shoulder height also reduces the risk of physical injury associated with awkward position.

3. Prepare your Position

The risk of injury with lifting increases with lifting beyond your arms reach. Move as close to the object as possible before lifting. Keeping your body close to the object being lifted will help to protect your spine, shoulders and reduce the amount of forwards bending with potential to overload your pelvic floor. Alternatively this may mean sliding the object close to your body before lifting.

4. Lunge Technique

Avoid deep wide squat position for lifting especially if you need to lift from ground level. When lifting from lower than waist height try to lunge or kneel down with your weight supported through one knee. Kneeling is preferable to deep wide squat position for lifting from ground level. How to lunge exercises are demonstrated in this online video. If you must lift from ground level the image below illustrates the safe lifting techniques using a lunge for lifting.

Lunge Lifting Technique

5. Breath Out

Breathe out as you lift to reduce the pressure on your pelvic floor with lifting. Avoid breath holding since holding your breath causes the diaphragm and pelvic floor to descend. Once you have lifted the object resume your normal breathing.

6. Pelvic Floor Muscle Activation

Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles before and during lifting. Contracting your pelvic floor muscles will help to minimise the downward strain on your prolapse or repair during lifting. Relax your pelvic floor muscles back to resting level having completed your lift, lower, push or pull.

7. Minimise Lifting Frequency

Try to avoid repetitive lifting where possible. Repeated lifting will repeatedly load the pelvic floor and increase the likelihood of pelvic floor muscle fatigue and strain over time. Keep lifting to a minimum frequency where possible and vary your tasks to non lifting tasks to reduce repetitive lifting and the load on your pelvic floor.

Practical Tips for Prolapse and Safe Lifting

  • Use pelvic floor safe strength training techniques in the gym
  • Pack small quantities in shopping bags
  • Pack shopping in the boot of your car rather than floor level
  • Use a laundry trolley
  • Use luggage with wheels
  • Transport young children in a pram
  • Avoid lifting and carrying heavy children in standing where possible; instead sit down and encourage the child to climb onto your lap
  • Arrange storage to readily access loads from appropriate height
  • Avoid unnecessary lifting
  • Slide an object instead of lifting to move an object
  • Seek assistance to help you lift wherever possible

Safe lifting techniques with a prolapse are important for overall prolapse management. The safe lifting techniques outlined in this article should be applied for long-term pelvic floor management by women with or at risk of prolapse problems and after prolapse surgery.

prolapse exercisesABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Prolapse Exercises Inside Out.

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


  1. Hi Michelle
    Since my prolapse surgery one of my biggest fears is doing the grocery shopping and lifting the bags. With these techniques I can now shop with confidence.
    kind regards

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Pauline
      Lifting the shopping is one of those every day tasks we just take for granted isn’t it – good idea totake care with your grocery lifting now on using the correct technique and avoiding heavy loads.
      Best of luck Pauline

  2. Dee Miller says:

    Hi Michelle,

    I am involved in Kayaking and lift the bow or stern often with someone else on the opposite end I am. There is no way to avoid this lifting as I never want to give up this sport. The lifting is often twice a day, to the water and later out of the water. I do the muscle activation before I pick up and carry and I puff my breath, somewhat like the breathing during labor and childbirth, which allows me to keep the muscle tension for the sometimes longer than I’d like trek to the trailer.

    A question, I am beginning a relationship which may lead to intimacy, I have a bladder prolapse and I need to know if it is possible to have intercourse with the bladder partially in the vagina. Sort of an embarrassing situation, I don’t know what to do.

    I do not want the prolapse surgery as I don’t want to give up my Kayaking( the lifting is always going to be part of it) as it is the joy of my life.

    I am 69, and in otherwise perfect health.


    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Dee

      One suggestion I can make is to get the Kayak as close to the water as possible before you lift it to reduce the carrying distance – you are probably doing this already.

      AS far as intimacy goes, I think this quite is a common concern for women. It shouldn’t be a problem at all and your partner will be very unlikely to even notice if the prolapse is mild – moderate as you describe. Ensure good lubrication and try side lying (your back to partner) if you experience discomfort to allow you to control things a little. I do have an informationarticle on prolapse and sex that you may like to read too for much more information.

      All the best & enjoy your kayaking

  3. Judy Lewis says:

    I work for an airline and must lift luggage and stand all day. I don’t want to quit my job. What can I do to help with my stage 3 bladder prolapse. I am trying to avoid surgery also. Thanks

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Judy
      With moderate prolapse pelvic floor exercises may be helpful to some degree in allevaiting your symptoms and helping to support your pelvic floor. Other than reducing the amount of lifting (repetition and weight) you do which may not be viable, I would suggest you speak with your gynaecologist about your suitability for using a support pessary to support and protect your prolapse while you work.
      Best of luck

  4. julie gates says:

    Hello,I had davinci robot-assisted laparoscopic ventral rectopexy, sacaralcolopexy with mesh,monarch sling, caustically surgery five weeks ago. When can I start walking for exercise,I walk about four miles an hour. I also am a hairstylist,I’d like to know if there’s a limit to how long I should stand?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Julie

      Thank you for your question about post op. walking. and return to work prolonged standing. Fisrt and foremost be guided by your surgeon’s instructions for when you can return to walking.

      Generally most women return to a progressive walking program during their first 6 weeks of recovery provided they have not had complications preventing this. You can read return to walking guidelines here for the quantity of walking and how to modify strain with walking post gynae surgery. Walking exercise will also assist in improving your endurance for your standing work.

      I usually suggest that women return to standing work gradually, one day on one day off with reduced hours to start with especially over the first few weeks. There are no hard and fast rules for how much standing post op. this depends on many factors including body weight, fitness, type of work and pelvic floor strength/endurance. Standing for extended periods of time places a downward force of the abdomen combined with gravity that loads he pelvic floor (and the repair). If you think about your repair it stitched your pelvic organs back up so it makes sense to take regular breaks (if you can put your feet up great), sit where possible and avoid standing for hours on end particularly during those first 3 months post op. Obviously as time passes standing tolerance improves with healing and improved fitness. You may want to think about the types of haircuts you do and when for example quick easy trims would be great towards the end of your session when you are fatigued and the more involved work earlier on in your session when your pelvic floor is not so fatigued.

      Hope this helps you out Julie
      All the best

  5. For moving things (like boxes of cat litter), I am consider buying a folding ‘dolly’ or ‘hand truck’.

  6. Hi Michelle, I am hoping you can give me some advice. I am almost 3 weeks post vaginal hysterectomy. I also had an anterior and posterior vaginal wall repair which had been a grade 2. I also decided to have TVT at the same time. I still have my catheter in as at present I am unable to void enough to try intermittent self catheterisation. As a nurse myself I am not overly concerned about this and realise it will settle down after some time. My problem is that I have not got a clue about what I am supposed to be doing with regards to my recovery. At pre-assessment I was asked if I could do pelvic floor exercises. My answer was yes after having 3 children. Post surgery I saw the on-call physio who got me up and walking and said that was fine. The only other info I have received is don’t lift anything heavier than a half filled kettle for 2 weeks, don’t iron or hoover for 4-6 weeks, start driving after 5 -6 weeks and don’t return to the gym for 3 months. I have looked through your videos and have bought your book which has been helpful. Just wish I had bought it years ago. My question is how do I progress from where I am now. When can you start to live more normally. Can you bend, pick things up from the floor what weight can you start to lift after 2 week of a half filled kettle. Obviously I am following you advice on walking and increasing that slowly. Everything I seem to have in my kitchen is low level that requires stooping ie the fridge. Any help would be appreciated. I regular go to the gym so once I can return there I will follow you advice on pelvic floor safe exercises.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Carolyn
      Yes knowing how to recover and return to activity safely can be a bit of a minefield, especially since women and their surgery are all different so there’s no one rule fits all. I usually suggest maximum protection for the first 6-8 weeks post op to really help to promote good healing, remembering that complete healing takes 3 months and hence the need to be extra careful during this time period.

      In terms of exercise walking is usually the activity of choice and this is usually gradually progressed over the first 6 weeks post op. see this guide for walking after hysterectomy that also applies to prolapse surgery. Walking is usually balanced with resting and minimal household duties during this time. Sit rather than stand for prolonged periods during early recovery and take the time to rest lying down.

      When you do start back to household activities this is also progressed gradually. You may find this information on prolapse and housework gives you some ideas too. If you’re planning to return to nursing in the near future I suggest a graduated return to work with no lifting and scheduled breaks – discuss this with your workplace health and safety officer to plan your return.

      Your question really deserves a full article and I’ve made a note to follow up on this in the coming weeks.Let me know if you have something specific I can try to answer for you.

      All the best for your recovery