Can I lift weights with prolapse is such a common question! I get asked it so frequently that I thought I’d illustrate it with a client story.
This wonderful client was referred to me by the lovely, Nicola Mulkeen who is a pelvic health phyiotherapist in the Midlands. The client is a Crossfitter who developed pelvic organ prolapse after the birth of her son. As is the case for so many of my clients, exercise is important to them. It’s their time for themselves, their time to be part of a community (in this case a local Crossfit gym) or just something they love doing.
To have this aspect of life taken away can be hard. And when prolapse is concerned, getting back to the exercise they love can seem like just a dream. Googling “can I lift weights with prolapse?” brings up lists and blogs about ALL the exercises you can’t do but how is this useful for a mum who needs to lift her 11kg baby (frequently). As we all know, babies just get heavier!
Here’s how I used The Positive POP Framework to get her back to Crossfit workouts.
It's about prolapse but I didn't start with the pelvic floor
Whaaaaaat! This is a blog about pelvic organ prolapse and lifting weights and you didn’t start with the pelvic floor?!
I started with hearing her story. The blame she had given herself for “causing the prolapse with exercise”, which I pointed out was not her fault because no-one had explained that post natal recovery takes longer than we think. Her beliefs around “prolapse appropriate” exercise (and how the cleans and deadlifts she wanted to do, didn’t fit within that). We talked about drivers of symptoms and how these didn’t just include what was happening with the tissues of the pelvic floor.
Relaxation for the pelvic floor (& nervous system)
If you are thinking about prolapse 24/7 then hypervigilance combined with guarding can lead to holding the pelvic floor. Allowing the pelvic floor (and whole system) to relax can help give the pelvic floor more range of motion. As a result, my client was able to use her pelvic floor more effectively.
Better connection to the pelvic floor
If it’s a challenge to access the pelvic floor, it’s going to be hard to use it. We tried different ways and strategies to help my client get better access (without aggravating prolapse symptoms). As a result she was able to incorporate her pelvic floor where and when it was needed.
Building capacity to lift weights with prolapse
Building capacity is a great way to improve the pelvic floor but also strengthen the whole body. A stronger body is better able to deal with load. Combined with her bespoke pelvic floor strategies, we were able to find functional movements where we could train and build strength.
Building confidence for lifting weights with prolapse isn't about "just do it"
I’m a big believer that “safe” or “unsafe” exercises for prolapse don’t exist in neat little boxes. With this in mind, my focus is on helping client feel safe about a particular exercise. This comes from 3 elements:
- understanding what is happening within the movement
- feeling and knowing how the pelvic floor (and whole body) can help manage the “load” of an exercise
- actually experiencing an exercise or movement. Because confidence also comes from doing
Women's Health physio support
My client also had the amazing support of a physio. She was discharged from physio a month or so ago.
She has great pelvic floor strength, a host of strategies she can use during exercise and the confidence in her own body.
Do you have pelvic organ prolapse and you’re wondering how you can get back to lifting weights? This is exactly why I created the Positive POP Programme