Beth Davies Coaching

Strategies for exercising with pelvic organ prolapse

When thinking about exercising with pelvic organ prolapse, it can be easy to simplify exercises into safe or unsafe, good or bad etc. You avoid the “unsafe” or “bad” ones and do the “safe” or “good” ones. Using this language often means that you don’t progress (because something  like lifting weights is deemed bad for someone with prolapse). Or that you are very bored because someone very rarely wants to get back to just glute bridges or pulling a band. 

So, to avoid the trap of good or bad, here are 3 strategies that can be used in exercise. These can help to change the “how a movement is done” versus what the movement actually is. 

DISCLAIMER: this doesn’t mean that you completely ignore some of those gentler exercises you may have been told to do. This blog does not replace any individual advice you have been given by your healthcare provider. 

Strategy 1 for exercising with pelvic organ prolapse - Breathing

If you pop back to the previous blog, there is a fantastic image of the core. This shows how the breath drives a relaxation and lengthening of the muscles during an inhale. Then a drawing in and drawing up of the muscles during an exhale. This provides stability and support. 

One of the jobs of the core is to manage intra-abdominal pressure. Often, when exercising with prolapse, we might want to be mindful (not fearful) of intra-abdominal pressure and we can use our core muscles to help with this. An exhale is a little release of intra-abdominal pressure and this can be timed with or just before the hardest part of the exercise. 

Strategy 2 for reducing the heavy feeling - Manage tension

Anthony Lo, also known as The Physio Detective, coined the phrase “tension to task” which I love. This phrase often makes so much sense to clients too! 

In the presence of pelvic floor symptoms, it’s easier/safe (thank you brain!) to create lots of tension in order to do a task. Or hold on to your pelvic floor muscles as a way of adding strength. 

However, moderating how much tension a task needs can be really useful.  Extra tension may lead to stiffness in movement (and the pelvic floor) and extra intra-abdominal pressure. We want the pelvic floor muscles to be able to respond (with speed) to what you need it to do. 

Strategy 3 for getting stronger - Progressive Overload

Meeting the body where it’s at and providing scope for progression and improvement! 

Because, I am guessing you’d like to get stronger and do more?! 

This may look like starting exercises in lying and then moving positions such as kneeling and standing 

Or opt for the light weights and gradually lift heavier ones.  

It might look like 1 minute of running and gradually increasing run time and reducing walk time 

Progressive overload offers a clear plan whilst also being able to adapt should symptoms crop up 

Other methods for progressive overload 

  • Reducing rest time between sets 
  • Increasing the speed of an exercise 
  • Reducing the speed of an exercise and adding a pause 
  • Adding more instability eg one leg 

If you are wanting to exercise with pelvic organ prolapse and get back to the exercise you love, check out my Positive POP Framework. If you’d like to chat, you can book a call here 

Beth Davies is an experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female health, 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 publications such as Stylist, Marie Claire UK, Woman & Home, and Metro

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