Safe Lifting Weight Limit with Prolapse or after Hysterectomy

How much can I lift with prolapse problems or after hysterectomy?

What’s the magic number?

Unfortunately most women receive very little information about safe lifting to help them manage their pelvic floor problems. safe lifting weight limit

Here’s your Physiotherapist guide to learn about:

1. What determines your individual safe lifting weight limit

2. How to reduce your risk of worsening pelvic floor problems with safe lifting

Important Facts About Heavy Lifting & Your Pelvic Floor

Fact 1: Heavy lifting increases the load on your pelvic floor

Fact 2: Heavy lifting increases your risk of internal pelvic floor strain and pelvic floor dysfunction (e.g. prolapse and/or incontinence)

Fact 3: It’s not just the weight of the load you lift that increases internal strain – other lifting factors also come into play

Fact 4: Every woman is different when it comes to safe lifting weight limit – there is no single safe lifting weight for all women!

Why is There No Safe Lifting Weight Limit for all Women?

Pelvic floor strainMany factors determine how much weight your pelvic floor can withstand to avoid pelvic floor descent and strain (shown right).

Internal and external factors determine your individual safe lifting weight limit.

Some ladies are given instructions like “never lift more than 10 kg or 22 lb” after prolapse surgery or hysterectomy. This really doesn’t take into account the other factors that determine safe lifting weight.

When it comes to safe lifting you need to consider more than just a single number to avoid worsening prolapse and other pelvic floor problems.

A. Individual factors that determine your safe lifting weight include:

  • Your overall physical strength
  • Your pelvic floor strength and functioning
  • Your abdominal body fat (surrounding your abdominal organs)
  • Your history of pelvic floor surgery (prolapse, incontinence and/or hysterectomy)
  • Your surgical procedure
  • Your menopausal status

B. External lifting factors that influence your safe lifting weight include:

  • How often you lift the load (repetitive lifting increases the risk of strain) Lunge Lifting Technique
  • The height from which you lift (lifting from a low height increases the risk of strain)
  • The distance you carry the load
  • Your lifting posture and technique
  • Movement forces during lifting e.g. lifting a wriggling toddler
  • Your ability to grip the weight (influenced by size, shape, handles etc).

You can see the many factors that come into play when it comes to safe lifting weight limits making this a challenging issue for women and health practitioners alike.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Strain with Safe Lifting Safe lifting alterative

Here’s how to stay active and reduce your risk of worsening pelvic floor problems with lifting:

  1. Avoid heavy lifting
  2. Avoid repetitive lifting
  3. Never strain with lifting
  4. Use good lifting posture
  5. Use safe lifting techniques
  6. Maximize your grip before lifting
  7. Keep your whole body strong with pelvic floor safe strength exercises
  8. Listen to your body – if you notice symptoms with lifting stop, modify or avoid altogether
  9. Keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and working well
  10. Engage your pelvic floor muscles immediately before and during all lifting and carrying
  11. Manage your abdominal body fat levels to avoid loading your pelvic floor
  12. Lift from waist height – avoid lifting from below your waist where possible
  13. Avoid deep squatting if you need to lift off the ground use lunge technique
  14. Use equipment to move a load rather than carrying e.g. trolley, pram, golf buggy
  15. Seek assistance with heavy lifting
  16. Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding safe lifting weight after a hysterectomy, incontinence or prolapse surgery

Key Points for your Safe Lifting Weight Limit

There is no single safe lifting weight limit for women with or at risk of pelvic floor problems.

Your safe lifting weight is determined my internal and external factors that may increase the load on your pelvic floor with lifting.

Minimize your risk of pelvic floor strain and worsening pelvic floor problems by using these simple safe lifting techniques during your everyday activities.


Inside Out Book & DVD

with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Michelle Kenway

Learn how to strengthen your body, stay in great shape and avoid exercises that overload the pelvic floor causing pelvic floor problems.

Inside Out book and DVD is a complete exercise solution for women seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.




  1. Dear Michele,

    Thank you for this interesting article. My doctor who did two surgeries on my bladder, and a rectocele with tape had to do a further surgery using fascia from my thigh after my small intestine fell. After my last examination I asked if I could go back to the gym, as I had always been very active teaching Yoga and aroebics. She told me that I should only work out with low weights, and only those that I can carry easily in one hand. I therefore only go with 5-lb weights.
    My doctor also belongs to a gym, and only uses low weights with more reps. She is in really good shape.

    I have found your book and your newsletters very helpful on my way back from recovery.
    Thank you so much.


    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Jean

      Lovely to hear from you again!

      Yes I think lighter weights with more reps is a great solution in the gym as opposed to heavy lifting. it won’t give quite the same strength benefits however it will still strengthen and improve endurance with less risk of compromising the pelvic floor.

      Keep up your great work Jean

      Best wishes

  2. You Showed on your video which exercise ball exercises to avoid but which ones are safe? Would beverygrateful to know if there are any safe ones Thanking you Paula

  3. Hi Michelle, Thanks for your website which looks fantastic. Recently I was asked by a physio to do a double leg weight press (of 16 kg) in an upright seated position (not reclining but pushing level, not pushing upwards) to assess leg strength [after rehab for surgery to remove metal for a previous tibial plateau fracture]. I asked if this was bad for (ie exert downwards pressure on) my pelvic floor and he said as long as I didn’t feel ‘strain’ on my pelvic floor it was ok. Afterwards, I did experience a few drops of urine leakage but didn’t feel ‘strained’ at the time – what do you think please? Love your work! Gail

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Gail

      Lovely to hear from you! I think with a history of prolapse surgery upright seated leg press is definitely not an appropriate exercise to be performed repetitively on a regular basis. Seated leg press is one of the first exercises I take out of an exercise program in women with prolapse/pelvic floor problems. As a one off at 16 kg it’s really hard to say for you – some ladies with very weak pelvic floor supports wouldn’t cope well with this exercise. Since you are young and quite strong and didn’t feel strain I don’t see a major issue but I would leave it on a regular basis for sure. I understand he needed to set a baseline for your leg strength – it’s a shame another measure of leg strength can’t be used in this instance as I imagine now he’ll want to do repeat testing at a higher weight. Did he say this will be used as an ongoing measure Gail?

      Best wishes

  4. Catherine says:

    I love all your posts. I’m off for a hysterectomy and pelvic floor repair in June. I’ve been following your advice. I would just like to know about afterwards, is hooping with non weighted hoop ok, and torpedo pilates move. Also a non exercise question. I played the oboe , but have stopped as it seems to cause downward pressure as you have to blow quite hard, but would it be ok afterwards. Is Nordic walking ok afterwards. Any walking is quite uncomfortable at the moment so I use an exercise bike. Many thanks

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Catherine

      Good questions here thank you – torpedo Pilates move is a trunk strength exercises that shouldn’t be an issue when you are fully recovered (i.e. at least 3 months post op and with your doctor’s approval). Start with the single top leg raise only for a few weeks and see how you feel – any strain then stop. Re hoola hoop unweighted does still recruit the upper/outer abs so this is an exercise to be very careful with. Having never played Oboe I can only guess that you need to blow hard into the mouth piece to generate sound? In this case this will increase pressure on your pelvic floor. If a particular activity causes discomfort now it will be likely one to avoid post op. long term. Exercise bike is a great option for cardiovascular fitness. When you say nordic walking do you mean hills and long walks using poles?


      • Catherine says:


        Thank you for that. I am now home recovering! Nordic walking I would use long poles, but usually on the flat, not steep hills. Sad about the oboe though, but I think it would cause pressure. I’m so determined to everything I can’t to keep my pelvic floor safe. Thank you for your excellent advice.

  5. I have been a gym ‘rat’ for a few years now, and at age 70, doing very well. Obviously don’t want to loose ground, but don’t want to be stupid aftr the supracrv hysterectomy. Will switch to low weight and more bike. Thank you for the advice. My question is how about the eliptical? I will assume that the treadmill is OK. I always rotate my cardio and go everyother day, when possible. Had the surgery 11 days ago, so I will only be walking for awhile.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Rhona
      Thanks for your comment. This video on elliptical machine exercises should answer your question about how to keep the elliptical machine pelvic floor safe when you’re given the ok to return to general exercise- hope this helps you out!