The word “safe” is often used alongside exercises that are recommended if you have pelvic organ prolapse. Safe can mean several things; safe in that they won’t give you symptoms, safe in that it provides certainty of NOT making things worse. But, here’s the thing, the use of the word safe isn’t that helpful, because your brain then assumes that other exercises are “unsafe”.
“Safe” exercises are often done in lying position, with no weights, no impact, with lots of conscious pelvic floor engagement.
This can be a great place to start, for sure! However, more strength, more capacity and more confidence comes from gently challenging your body. This is best done in different positions and with a variety of inputs (eg weights, bands etc).
If you are only doing what’s on the safe list, you are creating movement restrictions or a movement hierarchy. When there are movement restrictions, it adds to fear around movement and leads to confusion as you try and work out if an exercise is safe or not.
Healthcare professionals may also add to confusion around movement and exercise, and will often advise patients NOT to do something even though it doesn’t make sense or is impractical to avoid. But not provide how their patient might be able to work towards it as a movement goal. By doing this, the healthcare professional is saying “There’s no opportunity for your body to adapt and build”. This also reinforces the idea to their patient, that their body is broken.
What word could replace "safe"?
A better word to use would be to say “What are you ready for?” versus “What is safe?”
Now, you can look more objectively at what you feel is within or outside of your current capacity. Plus create a plan to add movements or training in as you build up.
Different bodies will handle different movements in different ways. For example, someone may lift a certain weight and have no symptoms, no bearing down or no fear/worry. Versus, someone who is deconditioned may only be ready for a body weight squat and require more pelvic floor cueing or coordination.
Ready gives hope and optimism versus the prolapse doom and gloom of having to do “safe” exercises for ever.
Building your unlimited list of movement and exercise can be done!
PROJECT STRONG (click on link to read more) is a unique 1:1 coaching programme. Over 4 months you’ll go from feeling like lifting, strength training or running with prolapse is confusing and complicated, to training with ease. Plus, build bucket loads of confidence and strength along the way.
Interested in finding out more? Book a call here
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 publications such as Stylist, Marie Claire UK, Woman & Home, and Metro