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.
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.
ABOUT 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.