Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) - Strategies for Exercise
If you've had a diagnosis of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) from your gynocologist or pelvic floor physiotherapist, this lesson will talk you through strategies for exercising with POP.
If you do NOT have POP, you can mark this section as done and move on!
So many women with POP are TERRIFIED of doing exercise and making it worse, but avoiding exercise can cause so many other physical and mental problems later on down the line.
Rather than avoiding exercise, learn and implement these simple strategies so that you can exercise with confidence.
Watch/listen to the video, or if you prefer, you can read the information below!
You should also complete BOTH of the breathing techniques in this module, and SEE A PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPIST (this is super important!)
Quick summary of what you should do if you have POP:
- See a pelvic floor physiotherapist (if you haven't already)
- Complete the 2 breathing tutorials in this section
- Learn the strategies for exercise and daily life below.
What Is POP?
Our pelvic organs (bladder, rectum and uterus) are help up by our pelvic floor (from the bottom - like a hammock) and by ligaments (from the top - like strings of a puppet).
When the ligaments that hold the organs up are stretched out and weakened, the pelvic organs can descend into the vagina.
While we can't strengthen those ligaments, we can learn strategies to prevent worsening a prolapse when exercising.
Strategies for Exercise with POP
Blow Before You Go
EXHALE through the EFFORT - when picking your baby up, standing up out of a chair or getting out of the car.
With exercise, breathe out through the hardest part of the movement, so while standing up from a squat, while pushing or pulling a weight.
Don't hold your breath.
This helps us regulate intra-abdominal pressure. If we have mastered the breathing techniques in this module, our pelvic floor is going to contract on that out-breath to support our pelvic organs.
Know Your Symptom Threshold
You need to know what ACTIVITIES and INTENSITIES cause your prolapse symptoms to flair up.
Does walking make it happen?
How much walking? Are you ok with 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, but 2 hours you can feel the heaviness?
Is walking fine, but running makes you feel that bulging sensation?
Or are there certain exercises like squats that make your symptoms flair up? How many? How deep? How much weight?
Once we know this, we want to work below our symptom threshold (and hopefully work towards increasing it)
We want to MODIFY before we OMIT - so can we do it in a different way, before taking the exercise away completely?
Start with Exercises that are Low-Demand on the Pelvic Floor.
By doing exercises like swimming or walking, rather than running where the impact is really high-demand for the pelvic floor.
And by starting exercising in supine positions (on your back) so that weight is taken OFF your pelvic floor.
We don't want to stay here forever, but, this is a good starting point - happily, level 1 and 2 of the Foundational Programme (Core, Mobility and Strength) do just that.
Strengthen your Glutes (BUM muscles)
Your glutes support your pelvic floor - so you want to strengthen them!
The Foundational Strength Programme focuses a LOT on that!
Include Exercises that Deload (take weight off) Your Pelvic Floor.
When doing exercises that are higher demand on the pelvic floor (e.g. squats) we want to physically take weight off our pelvic floors - we can do this by resting, OR by following it with an exercise that is supine (lying on your back), like a glute bridge or floor press.
Again, the Foundational Strength Programme is organized in this way!
Likewise, if you have spend a lot of time on your feet, you can take the weight off your pelvic floor.