Strength Training Guidelines for Women with Prolapse
Safe prolapse exercises require an understanding of the exercises and techniques with the potential to cause pelvic floor injury.
These physiotherapy guidelines for safe prolapse exercises are by Michelle Kenway, Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out.
Michelle designed these 10 pelvic floor safe exercise principles that are widely adopted throughout Australia as part of the Continence Foundation of Australia’s Pelvic Floor First safe exercise campaign.
10 Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise Principles for Strengthening
From Inside Out – the essential women’s guide to pelvic support by Michelle Kenway
These 10 principles are designed to help you safely strengthen your body AND protect your pelvic prolapse as you do so:
1. Avoid exercises and/or machines that aggravate prolapse symptoms
Listen to your body – if your symptoms are worse with or following a particular exercise or machine then modify that exercise or perform another exercise. Doing an exercise in a women’s circuit or gym does not necessarily ensure safe prolapse exercises!
2. Avoid heavy lifting
Never lift a weight that makes your strain or inclined to hold your breath.
3. Lift with good posture
Maintain the inward curve in your low back whenever you perform a resistance exercise.
4. Exhale with every effort
Always breathe out with the effort and never hold your breath when performing a lift/lower/push or pull.
5. Choose supported positions
Sitting or laying down places much less pressure on your pelvic floor than lifting weights when standing.
6. Keep your feet close together
If you do must stand for an exercise, keep your knees close and narrow your pelvic floor openings. This always applies to squats -keep your knees close during pelvic floor safe squats in how to squat video.
7. Strengthen gradually
Start with light resistance and gradually increase the weight you lift as your body strengthens over time.
8. Take care when fatigued or injured
When you are tired or unwell your pelvic floor muscles will not work as effectively so take a break from training.
9. Rest between exercises or sets
Rest to give your muscles adequate time to recover.
10. Use your pelvic floor muscles
Try to brace your pelvic floor muscles when you can before and as you lift/lower/push/pull a weight. Always make sure you fully relax your pelvic floor muscles completely after exercise.
Who is Most at Risk of Pelvic Floor Injury?
There are times and events in every woman’s life where her risk of pelvic floor injury with inappropriate strength exercises may be increased. This includes;
- With existing pelvic prolapse;
- After previous prolapse surgery;
- New mums;
- During and after menopause;
- After a hysterectomy;
- With a weak pelvic floor;
- With pelvic floor pain or increased pelvic floor muscle tension; and
- When strength training for osteoporosis to improve bone density.
If you can apply any or all of the above strength training principles you will better ensure safer prolapse exercises. Pelvic floor safe strength training principles can help women to exercise safely for better strength and tone, and protect the health of their pelvic floor.
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.