Beth Davies Coaching

How to rehab and rebuild after a prolapse diagnosis

This blog outlines 2 phases of training after a prolapse diagnosis – rehab and rebuild! 

The new definition of Pelvic Organ Prolapse according to the ICS (International Continence Society) includes the following 2 elements 

  1. The descent or departure of one or more of the pelvic organs away from their original position, along with 
  2. Bothersome symptoms of heaviness, dragging or bulging 

This is interesting because I speak to many women who have no symptoms of prolapse but once their prolapse has been detected and they have received a diagnosis, they find themselves symptomatic and full of fear. They’ve been told to avoid exercise, running, or lifting and told to just do swimming or Pilates. Equally, some may have lots of symptoms and seen multiple physio’s or doctors and no one can detect any descent. 

So, rather than the presence of a prolapse being the reason you might need to rehab and rebuild, let’s base it on the symptoms or sensations you are experiencing. 

 

What symptoms of prolapse are you experiencing?

In my screening forms, I ask if a prolapse has been diagnosed but more importantly what symptoms they are experiencing. These may include the following common prolapse symptoms 

  • dragging sensation in the pelvis 
  • a feeling of heaviness
  • a feeling of being sat on a golf ball 
  • discomfort with sex 
  • unable to wear a tampon or it falls out
  • continuous feeling of a tampon being stuck (even if not wearing one) 

The role of rehab for pelvic organ prolapse

The role of rehab for pelvic organ prolapse is to return the pelvic floor muscles to good strength and function and reduce symptoms so they are more manageable and predictable. I use the concept of “active rehab” which is movement-based alongside pelvic floor muscle training recommended by a pelvic health physio. 

Active rehab is a powerful way to return to movement and activities of daily life such as lifting and carrying. It combines the following: 

  • pelvic floor awareness and education
  • understanding the role of breathing, tension, pressure and alignment 
  • practical application of the above in movement (which also helps build full body strength alongside improvements in pelvic floor function).  

The rehab phase is not a defined period of time. I see clients see vast improvements in symptoms within 6 weeks and huge levels of improvement in 12 weeks alongside feeling confident, stronger and spending less time thinking about their prolapse. For some, it may take longer. 

Things that clients have said about their rehab: 

“By the middle of the programme I was alot more confident in what my body could do. I was less worried about walking and moving generally and had learnt how to let go of all the gripping and tension”

“Learning to breathe differently was a big help too. As someone who is used to lifting weights, I am used to bracing my core/ pelvic floor and creating tension. Un-learning this and being mindful of breathing out when lifting has further supported my recovery. I am now 6 month post partum and am almost totally assymptomatic 🙂 I have also returned to my beloved barbell lifts the week.

“I feel that I have the tools to continue forward on my journey. Yes, this is a journey as there is always room for improvement and to continue to maintain my pelvic floor health, you have may this feel more manageable and have broken it down in to bit size pieces that are easier to understand and to put into practice”

What happens in the rebuild phase?

If pelvic organ prolapse rehab was about pelvic floor and core function along with reducing symptoms and getting back to some movement and symptom-free activities of daily life, rebuild looks more like a strength training plan. 

The aim of the rebuild phase is to incorporate pelvic floor strategies within strength training. This can then be progressed using the following factors: 

  • adding load 
  • more challenging positions 
  • tempo changes eg more time under tension or more power 
  • higher volume 

All of this can be progressed over time so that you build strength and confidence and get back to doing the training or exercise you love. Rather than a weekly workout, there are 3 workouts per week which are gently progressed over each month. These include a wide variety of movements, rep ranges and training styles. 

If you would like more information on training programmes for pelvic organ prolapse, check out LIFTED! rehab programme and PROJECT STRONG for lifters and gym lovers 

Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence. She has been featured in women’s lifestyle magazines and websites, including  StylistMetroWoman & Home and Marie Claire UK 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *