Choose Low Impact Exercises
Traditional exercises do not strengthen your pelvic floor, however there are a number of exercises that have a low risk of causing damage, and some exercises which can be amended to even enhance your pelvic floor muscles. Its entirely possible to get an effective workout that has all the benefits of higher impact sports without the risk to your pelvic floor. These exercises are also ideal after surgery or childbirth.
Take a look at the list below for some ideas of low impact activities you can have a go at:
Treatments For Pelvic Organ Prolapse
1. Lifestyle changesIf youre looking for non-invasive pelvic organ prolapse treatment options, one of the first things you should consider is your lifestyle and how it may be causing and/or worsening your symptoms. Weight loss, eating adequate fiber to reduce constipation, and giving up smoking to reduce coughing can all be helpful. You should also avoid exercises that make pelvic organ prolapse worse, including running, jumping, and skipping, avoid lifting heavy objects, and avoid strength training exercises such as sit-ups and abdominal crunches, planks, abdominal exercise machines, wide leg and machine squats, and leg presses.
2. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy/ExercisesThere are certain exercises you can do at home to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and relieve symptoms, and your doctor can make recommendations for you based on the type and severity of your prolapse. You can also seek the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can create a series of exercises for you, and ensure you are doing them correctly. If youre interested in trying pelvic floor exercises at home, see below for 6 workouts you can stream for free!
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Pelvic Floor Exercises And Vaginal Pessaries
Regular pelvic floor exercises can improve problems caused by a pelvic organ prolapse. Vaginal pessaries can also help, but they arent suitable for every woman.
In mild or moderate cases , surgery can often be avoided. Sometimes the organs move back into the correct position on their own, or at least dont drop down further. Many women find that doing pelvic floor exercises and/or using a vaginal pessary is enough to improve the symptoms.
But theres no guarantee that these treatments will make the symptoms go away. Especially pelvic floor exercises have their limits if the organs have slipped down far. In studies on pelvic floor exercises, between 3 and 10 out of 100 women ended up deciding to have surgery after all.
Our decision aid can help you to decide whether or not surgery is a suitable option for you. It summarizes the main pros and cons of the different treatment options.
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Who Could Benefit From Pelvic Floor Exercises
People who have faecal incontinence or bowel leakage may be helped by doing some specific exercises for the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles. These exercises could help improve the strength of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control. Talk to your healthcare professional before doing these exercises to see whether they could help you.
Pelvic Floor Exercises can help both men and women gain more control over bowel movements. These exercises are also used for men and women with bladder control problems.
How Is Vaginal Prolapse Managed Without Surgery
Pelvic Floor Muscle training, under the guidance of a physiotherapist with post graduate qualifications, is recommended as the first line of treatment for vaginal prolapse.
We probably assume that this training is all about improving the strength of the pelvic floor muscles , but studies have shown only a minimal link between a womans maximal squeeze pressure improving and prolapse improving.
This makes sense, because a vaginal prolapse needs to be supported all throughout the day while youre in an upright position, but we probably only maximally squeeze our pelvic floor muscles for 1% of the day at times like in response to a big sneeze or lifting something thats heavy.
Instead, it is more likely that pelvic floor muscle training helps to decrease prolapse signs and symptoms because it improves the stiffness and support of the area, and it decreases the gap into which things can fall both at rest and under load.
Other management strategies would include:
- Teaching women how to empty their bladder and bowels effectively and without straining
- Determining if symptoms can be improved by incorporating rest periods in anti-gravity positions throughout the day
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How Do I Know Which Risk Category I Fall Into For Vaginal Prolapse
A Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is a physio who has done a huge amount of extra training in Womens Health and Pelvic Floor Health. They can do vaginal examinations to check a number of things such as:
- The Pelvic Floor Muscle function
- The structural support of the vaginal walls both at rest and on straining
Some important points to note:
- Its important to check if you currently have a prolapse but its just as important to pick up those who dont currently have a prolapse but are at high risk of it developing
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises are important but theres a lot more to it than just getting the best maximal squeeze possible, especially for endurance activities like running and playing a game of sport
Physio Tips For Prolapse Exercise
- Commence your exercises lying down and progress to sitting or standing when your pelvic floor strength increases
- Attend to good posture for pelvic floor exercises since slumped posture decreases the effectiveness of pelvic support exercises 4
- Practice your exercises at the start of the day when your prolapse will not be bulging as much as at the end of the day
- Use a vaginal pessary to lift the weight of the prolapsed tissues making pelvic floor exercises easier to perform with a prolapse.
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Occupational Therapy Franchise Opportunities
Since 2012, ActivOT has been challenging the status quo of occupational therapy service delivery. Were Australias first and only occupational therapy franchise but were more than that were a community of like minded practitioners who support each other so that everyone benefits.
ActivOT creates opportunities for occupational therapists to make the transition from employees to successful business owners. Weve done this by providing the right tools, advice, support and systems needed for occupational therapists to get started and to thrive in their own private practices. And our model works as at July 2022 we have 45 thriving practices across regional and metropolitan South Australia and South East Queensland.
Our franchisees have been drawn to ActivOT for a variety of reasons, including:
- an increasing need for better work-life balance
- a desire to do more diverse and satisfying work
- a long-held desire to own an OT practice but no opportunity to start one
- a great desire to experience the satisfaction of complete control over their career
- the need for flexibility in their work lives in order to achieve both personal and professional goals.
Franchising benefits for occupational therapists, therapy assistants and physiotherapists
Franchising is a proven system of business growth and is used all over the world, although its move into the healthcare arena is more recent. ActivOT was founded as the first franchise for occupational therapists in Australia.
Diagnosis Of Bladder Prolapse
Bladder prolapse is diagnosed by:
- medical history including checking for possible risk factors
- physical vaginal examination to allow assessment of the degree of prolapse, pelvic floor muscle function, presence of any other prolapse and other abnormalities in the pelvis, such as tumours or masses.
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Can I Push A Prolapse Back Up
When our insides decide to try to escape to the outside, it is time to get a professional involved. Though it may actually be possible to temporarily push fully prolapsed pelvic organs back into the vaginal opening, this is not a long term solution or an actual treatment. It is important to seek medical advice and see a pelvic floor therapist if severe symptomatic stage 3 or stage 4 prolapse occurs.
What Is A Prolapsed Bladder
Bladder prolapse is commonly referred to as dropped bladder or fallen bladder, and is one type of pelvic organ prolapse. Bladder prolapse is relatively common in women and the risk increases with increasing age.
You can see the importance of maintaining a strong pelvic floor muscles with kegels after prolapse surgery from this diagram, especially if you have been diagnosed with a bladder prolapse or after bladder prolapse repair surgery. Pressure from within the abdomen can push the pelvic floor downwards. Strong supportive pelvic floor muscles help to resist the downward pressure on your pelvic floor from everyday activities and exercise.
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Exercises To Control And Manage Prolapsed Bladder
Its important to note that not all exercises can aid in a prolapsed bladder. Some can actually worsen the condition. Exercises that put additional pressure on an already weakened pelvic floor can aggravate the condition, further weakening and stretching the muscles, and decreasing the muscles ability to support a prolapsed bladder.
When choosing exercises to support a prolapsed bladder there are some questions to ask yourself.
How much downward pressure is the exercise placing on your pelvic muscles?
How strong and well functioning is your pelvic floor?
How can your pelvic floor provide support to counteract this downward pressure?
If you have a prolapsed bladder, you should avoid exercises like running, jumping, skipping, and certain dance exercises.
You will want to stick with low impact exercises and modify other exercises to avoid adding pressure to the pelvic floor. Exercises that allow you to keep one foot on the ground at all times are generally safe to perform with a prolapsed bladder.
Low impact exercises include walking, cross-training, road cycle, spinning or indoor cycling, water-based exercises, low impact fit ball classes, and low impact fitness classes.
Unsafe core specific exercises when working out with a prolapsed bladder include sit ups or crunches, fit ball or medicine ball sit ups, Pilates, planks, and abdominal machine exercises.
Treatment For Symptomatic Bladder Prolapse
If you have symptoms of bladder prolapse it is recommended that, as for people with no symptoms, you make the same lifestyle changes, do pelvic floor muscle training and treat any chronic cough. Make them part of your routine.
However, sometimes prolapse can be more severe and these measures may not be enough on their own to relieve symptoms.
For these cases, there can be two different approaches:
1. Non-surgical approach vaginal pessaries
Some women may prefer this option if they wish to avoid or delay surgery, and it may be the safest option for women who are unfit for surgery.You will need regular check-ups with your healthcare professional if you are using a vaginal pessary long-term.
In some cases, when all other management options have failed to help with the symptoms, or when a woman does not want to use a pessary, surgery may be necessary. The type of surgery used will depend on your combination of prolapse and urinary tract symptoms. Your doctor will discuss the available surgical techniques with you.It is common to have a urinary catheter inserted during the operation to rest your bladder for a day after surgery, but this will depend on the procedure you have. Recovery from surgery takes about six weeks. You doctor will advise you about how to look after yourself during the recovery period, and a physiotherapist can recommend appropriate exercises.
Suggestions may include:
- resting each day.
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Why Is My Prolapse Worse Some Days
There are times during your cycle where you might feel worse. Hormonal changes can affect how your prolapse feels. This is common and even if you are doing great in your rehab process and this happens, do not panic! Many women feel it worse during ovulation. If you have just finished moving furniture around the house or gotten home from an intense workout just to be greeted with worse prolapse symptoms for the rest of the day, this is actually very normal for many women who suffer with pelvic organ prolapse. Straining on the toilet while trying to work through some constipation can also worsen your symptoms. When doing strenuous activities, we bear down and increase the pressure within ourselves and this can place even more pressure and force on the organs.
Prolapse Friendly Strength Training Workout
1 Superset: Perform 3 – 5 sets
1A. Hip Thrusts with Bands
- Your upper and lower body move in unison as you lower and raise.
- Squeeze your glutes to lift your body, but only until its in a straight line at the top, no higher.
- Exhale as you lift, inhale as you lower.
- Perform 15-25 reps
1B. 1-Arm Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
- Roll from your side into the starting position on your back.
- Push the weight up, pull the weight down.
- Exhale as your lift the weight, inhale as you lower the weight
- Perform 8-12 reps per side.
2 Circuit: Perform 3 – 5 sets
2A. Bodyweight Squat to Low Box
- Squat down and sit to a bench or box/step, going as low as you can while keeping good alignment through your lower back and pelvis.
- Squeeze your legs strong to stand up straight.
- Inhale to sit down, exhale to stand up.
- Perform 10-20 reps.
2B. Seated Cable Row
- Sit in good alignment on the sitz bones.
- Squeeze the back muscles and feel the shoulder blade travel backward, drawing the elbows to the sides of the ribcage.
- Exhale to pull, inhale to reach back in.
- Perform 8-12 reps per side.
2C. Half-Kneeling Pallof Press
Treadmill incline walking intervals
- Increase the incline for 30-60 seconds on the treadmill and walk at a moderate pace.
- Step off to the sides of the treadmill to rest, or lower the incline and walk slowly to recover for 30-90 seconds.
- Perform 5-10 sets total.
Resources and more information:
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What Causes Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic muscles are just like any other muscle in the body. They need to be strengthened in order to function properly. There are a number of different things that happen over a persons lifetime that can put additional strain on the muscles, which means its important to maintain them so they can recover more quickly.
Some of the more common reasons that women may start to have weakened pelvic floor muscles are being pregnant, not just giving birth. The weight of a baby growing in a womans body over a nine-month period will absolutely strain the muscles. Other common causes include high-intensity exercise, weight gain, hormonal changes, aging, and just the natural progression of life.
Not sure if youre living with the symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles? Take our quiz to find out.
Weight Lifting And The Pelvic Floor
Now thats my favorite question! Its important to take into account where you are in your diagnosis and training level, but most important is body awareness. The number one thing we want to accomplish as quickly as possible is recognizing the feeling of bearing down. This is the only thing that will cause prolapse to progress and get worse. So the faster you learn how to feel it, the faster you can start improving.
Once a little body awareness is developed and someone can feel if they are bearing down, I want them back to lifting as soon as possible. Not lifting weights decreases muscle mass, which affects bone density and hormones.
As a healthcare provider, I want women working out and I want to get them back to weights as soon as possible!
Bearing down or generating too much pressure is a common strategy most people use when lifting something thats too heavy. The weaker you get from not lifting weights the heavier things feel in your daily life, and the more you might have to bear down to lift that Costco box into the trunk.
Women often get the recommendation to not lift anything over 10 pounds when diagnosed. Which can be good advice for the first week or two — but that advice should only last until they get some help with pressure management. You have to be strong to deal with life! But, that said, you want to be smart and systematic about it.
Choose Pelvic Floor Safe Abdominal Exercises
Learn 5 Safe Abdominal Core Exercises
Ideally choose pelvic floor safe abdominal exercises that place minimal pressure on your pelvic floor. These are less intense core abdominal exercises that help you tone and strengthen your deep or innermost abdominal core muscles.
These 5 safe core abdominal exercises can help you get start your safe abdominal exercises.
Prolapse And Exercise For Strength And Bone Health
Safe strength training with a prolapse is very feasible, however traditional strength training programs are designed for men and often fail to apply pelvic floor safe strength training principles
Pelvic floor and prolapse worsening is more likely with:
- Heavy lifting and straining
- Specific strength training exercises and
- Unsupported positions when lifting .
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Tips For Exercise Classes And Prolapse:
- High impact exercise classes many of these exercises can be modified to be low impact.
- Strength training/resistance classes can include inappropriate strength exercises and techniques. These can often be modified or alternative pelvic floor safe strength exercises performed.
- Core training classes-intense core exercises will increase the likelihood of pelvic floor and prolapse strain. Core exercises can also be modified using techniques to reduce the intensity of the exercises on the upper abdominal muscles in particular.
If unsure about any exercise either leave it out or speak with your instructor for alternative exercises. Be mindful of the difficulty of catering to a large number of individuals with wide ranging abilities and expectations with pelvic floor safe exercises in group exercise.
If you or someone you know is struggling with perinatal anxiety and depression please seek assistance by visiting PANDA Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia or calling the National Helpline 1300 726 306.