Safe lifting techniques for prolapse and after prolapse surgery is important for reducing the risk of prolapse worsening.
Heavy lifting is a know risk factor for prolapse however sometimes it’s not possible to avoid lifting. Many women notice their prolapse symptoms worsen with repeated and/or heavy lifting.
This Physical Therapist information teaches you how to:
- Lift safely and protect your prolapse
- Protect your pelvic floor lifting after prolapse surgery
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.
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
Move as close to the object as possible before lifting. The risk of injury with lifting increases with lifting beyond your arms reach.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 holding your breath when lifting 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 standing up where possible; instead sit down and encourage the child to climb onto your lap
- Arrange storage to access loads from waist height or above where possible
- Avoid unnecessary lifting
- Slide instead of lifting
- Seek assistance to help you lift wherever possible
Safe lifting techniques with a prolapse and after prolapse surgery 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 Exercises Book
This complete exercise guide is especially for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely, reduce the risk of prolapse worsening and improve prolapse support.
Prolapse Exercises teaches you how to:
- Relieve prolapse symptoms
- Avoid unsafe exercises
- Choose pelvic floor safe exercises
- 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
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.