Unsafe Resistance Exercises For Prolapse & Prolapse Surgery

Which unsafe resistance exercises should you avoid in the gym with prolapse or after prolapse surgery?

Which gym exercises may be appropriate with modification?

This list of gym exercises helps you know which unsafe resistance exercises to avoid and those exercises you may be able to modify in the gym if you have prolapse problems and weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles.

Unsafe Resistance Exercises to Avoid With Prolapse

Use this list as a starting point for safe strength training. If you’re living with a prolapse your body may be able to tolerate a greater range of exercises after pelvic floor strengthening and rehabilitation.

If you’ve had prolapse surgery avoid the following exercises long-term unless advised otherwise by your doctor or physiotherapist.

A. Lower Body Exercises To Avoid

Unsafe resistance exercises

1. Leg Exercises

  • Leg press machine
  • Deep weighted squats*
  • Jump squats
  • Deep weighted lunges
  • Clean and press
  • Burpees
  • Dead lifts*
  • High bench steps*

2. Back Exercises

  • Dead lift*
  • Kettle bell swings
  • Chin ups

Scroll down for information on keeping lat pull down and seated rowing exercises pelvic floor safe.

C. Upper Body Exercises To Avoid

Unsafe upper body resistance exercises-min

1. Chest Exercises

  • Full push up*
  • Dips on parallel bar

2. Arm Exercises

  • Tricep dips
  • Pull ups

* May be modified by some women for pelvic floor safe gym exercises

2 Popular Back Exercises Requiring Caution

Use appropriate technique with an emphasis on correct posture when performing these two popular back strength exercises.

1. Seated row
2. Lat pull down Lat pull down exercise

Posture & Technique

  • Ensure good upright seated posture throughout
  • Lengthen your spine and avoid slumping forwards through your spine
  • Maintain the inwards curve in your lower back though out the entire exercise
  • Keep resistance manageable
  • Exhale with the effort of pulling the cables or handles towards your body


Good posture is important doing these 2 exercises. Slumping forwards increases the likelihood of using your core abdominal muscles and this should be avoided minimise loading on your pelvic floor.

General Tips For Resistance Exercises To Avoid

To protect your prolapse when strength training in the gym:

  • Avoid exercises that reproduce your prolapse symptoms during or after your training session.
  • Avoid exercises that cause direct downward pressure on your pelvic floor
  • Avoid exercises that involve supporting your weight entirely through your upper body.

Some women with prolapse problems who have well functioning pelvic floor muscles may be able to withstand the pressure associated with some of the exercises listed here – every woman is different.


Next: Pelvic Floor Safe Resistance Training Poster Guide

We Welcome Your Comments



  1. Hi Michelle,
    Is walking with ankle weights bad for prolapse/pelvic floor?

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Anne
      Unfortunately there’s no benefit to walking with ankle weights which can actually increase the risk of a range of lower limb problems. All the best

  2. Hi, I’m kind of getting tired of finding sites that say people with prolapse can’t do many strength exercises (or at least the *fun* ones). My big question is if someone goes through therapy and repairs their pelvic floor can they return to them?

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Dottish
      Yes I understand it’s very frustrating being advised not to do exercises you love doing. The simple answer to your question is that this is different for every woman. If only we could say all women are safe to do this and that after this particular surgery, then things would be much easier for everyone, patients, surgeons, physios & families. Unfortunately it’s not so straight forward. Every woman has her own individual risks for repeat prolapse such as her abdominal fat (which loads the pelvic floor), the type of prolapse surgery, the skill of the surgeon, the strength of her pelvic floor muscles, regular lifting tasks, menopausal status and more. To assure you that you’re right to return to high risk exercises fails to take all these potential risk factors into account. The best way of knowing is to work with a pelvic floor physio for rehab after surgery plus make your first surgery your best surgery as the risk of recurrent surgery just increases thereafter. All the best

  3. Hi Michelle,
    I’ve purchased your videos and books and they are great! I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago due to prolapse and my doctor told me no more weight lifting, volleyball, high impact or weight resistance exercises anymore. I have stuck to just doing yoga, swimming, and bike riding but would like to start back at Planet Fitness doing some weights, to make me feel stronger and hopefully lose some weight. I called the doctors office and a nurse told me I was fine to lift weights and I read a blog article of yours about Curves, and read that it’s okay to use the machines for leg curls and extensions, bicep and triceps, and hip adductors. Is it okay to do the lat pull down, row pulls, and chest press machines too? You mentioned being cautious with the chest press, can you explain more? Is it safer to lay down and bench press weights instead of seated chest press? I don’t want to cause any damage, and I’m not certain if the nurse giving me freedom to lift was accurate, but I’d love to be able to do light reps in the gym again if possible.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      Hi Joanne
      Thanks for you great question. It sounds as though you’ve been doing well to date with your exercise routine. Sometimes with chest press & lat pull downs (seated) women inadvertently exercise their upper abs too. Lying down bench press or dumbbell press is indeed preferable to seated chest press. You can also do lat pull overs done in the same as this in this triceps lying down position too see this video on lat pullovers The beauty of this position is that for lats and triceps you can load up the weights and it shouldn’t impact negatively on your pelvic floor. Just take care with lying down chest press that you keep the normal inward curve in your lower back throughout to help keep your strong outer abs out of the exercise. Does this make sense? Cheers Michelle

  4. Hi Michelle,
    I have just been diagnosed with a stage 3 prolapse – the trifecta! I am seeing my uro/gynae surgeon soon to discuss timing of surgery. I want to order your InsideOut book for prolapse, but it is confusing which DVD to purchase as well. Can you please advise me?
    I am very fit and strong (58 years old), having exercised frequently with weights to improve my bone density which I have achieved remarkably (I’m proud to report!) but this obviously has contributed to the severity of my prolapse. I had not considered that I could be causing this, even working with a PT for nearly 2 years! Gggrrr! I have stopped the taboo exercises now but feel I am inevitably losing muscle strength. So pelvic floor exercises are required preop, but does it mean I have to go back to basics with general exercises? I don’t want to lose my bone density gains, especially before surgery. Thanks for any advice.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Margaret
      Thank you for your question. Yes I understand your frustration Margaret! Unfortunately the risk of repeat prolapse increases after surgery and the aim is to make the 1st prolapse surgery last as long as possible. This is why it’s unwise to return to unsafe exercises after your prolapse surgery. All too often women return to the previous exercise program after prolapse surgery only to find that they have another prolapse. It is possible to exercise and protect your pelvic floor. There is a section in the prolapse exercises book specifically devoted to osteoporosis and prolapse that you may be interested in reading. This would be the best place to start to get well informed for your long-term exercise.

  5. hi I have just been diagnosed with an anterior vaginal wall prolapse. I have some lower abdominal pain but not sure when this goes away. What cardio type exercises can I do with a prolapse – are spin classes or swimming appropriate?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Nina

      Yes spin classes using light gears and avoiding standing out of the saddle is usually appropriate low impact cardio exercise. Swimming is also a nice low impact form of exercise for most women seeking to reduce loading on the pelvic floor. Nina this article on fitness exercises for prolapse will help you understand more.


  6. Hi Michelle,
    2 weeks ago I suffered a miscarriage, I opted out of having a D&C and decided to let it happen naturally. I have an appointment with the hospital tomorrow and am thinking of asking to get a D&C as the bleeding is showing no signs of stopping (I miscarried the pregnancy before my son and ended up needing a D&C after 7 weeks of continued bleeding) my question is – do you know if a D&C can cause pelvis floor damage or worsen exisiting problems? as I have mild prolapses from giving birth to my son 3.5 years ago.

  7. LBillings says

    Dear Michelle

    I was diagnosed with a rectal prolapse 6 months ago and was told that I would need major surgery. Immediately following the diagnosis I researched online and found your website. I have followed your advice and so far have not had a recurrence of the symptoms. In the 3 months prior to diagnosis, when I wasn’t aware how to exercise safely I had 4 episodes of the prolapse coming external.
    I just want to thank you for your advice/book/DVD which are invaluable to me

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi L

      I am really so glad to read that you’re managing things well and managing to stay active!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know, I am most appreciative.

      All the best to you

  8. also would bending over and standing back up also hurt my prolapse? or can it strengthen my back?

  9. bridgitte says

    hello, i have a stage 1 uterine prolapse and i was wondering if i can do leg lifts standing up? i start out standing and i step up on the bench type thing and lift my knee to my chest and then back down as I’m going back down to the ground, then i bend over to touch my toe as i bring my leg back then repeat. is that hurting my prolapse? also how about bending over and keeping my hands on the floor i then am stepping one leg towards my hand, then the other leg then back away from my hand again. (most people hop but i just step one leg at a time and your bottom is in the air the whole time)

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Hi Bridgitte

      I don’t think knee lifts are an issue – but why are you bending to touch your toe? Is there any functional or strength benefit? Bending forwards does increase pressure within the abdomen. It’s difficult to see that this exercise would help your everyday life or fitness. Bending forwards repeatedly will be more likely to injure the back rather than strengthen it. Knee lifts will help fitness and strength however leave the bend forward.

      Hope this helps

  10. Please give me exercises to help my pelvic floor after 2 vagina repairs. Now my rectum is having problems as well due to all this, and I do not want to make it worse by more surgeries. I’m in despair, after having worked so physically hard at our country home, carrying logs of wood, and doing too much heavy lifting, gardening etc. Help, I’m not young, but very fit, & my right knee is looking for replacement. Darn it, life can be tough can’t it. & I still want to stay fit.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says

      Yes Annie life can be tough!

      Annie the most important thing you can do is to start your pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) and do them everyday.

      Unfortunately the more heavy work you do, the worse things will likely be. This means trying to modify what you’re doing where you can and I understand that you need to do physical work for your lifestyle e.g. use wheelbarrows rather than lifting, splitting up your tasks, carry smaller amounts in one load and remember heavy lifting from ground level is most likely to compromise your pelvic floor. Here is a link to help you with your pelvic floor exercises

      All the best to you