7 Safe Lifting Techniques That Avoid Prolapse Worsening

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

Safe Lifting Techniques

 

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.

Lunge Lifting Technique

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 Book

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

    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.

We Welcome Your Comments

Comments

  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
    Pauline

    • 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
      Michelle

  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.

    Dee

    • 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
      Michelle

  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
      Michelle

  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
      Michelle

  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
      Michelle

  7. My job entails repetitive lifting of various weights as a production line an always Manual and I’m worried about when will be the right time to go back as I’m only two weeks into recovery

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Angela
      This depends upon many factors including the type of prolapse surgery, your pelvic floor strength & support, your body weight, your bowel management etc. The best thing to do is to see a Pelvic Floor Physio to help you with your rehab. and she will also likely liaise with your employer to arrange a graduated return to work and modification to your work if/as required. Your surgeon should be willing to support this too especially if your job involves ongoing heavy lifting. Angela full healing takes 3 mths and the first 6 weeks it’s really vital to avoid pelvic floor strain. You may need to get your medical caregivers to assist you to make sure you’re safe to return to work. Your first repair is your best one and you need to make this one last All the best to you Angela