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Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise
If you suffer from a prolapse, incontinence or weak pelvic floor muscles, you have quite likely been advised to avoid doing too much exercise. Some women we’ve spoken to have been told to avoid exercising entirely! Staying active is hugely important for everyone as it’s such a vital part of maintaining your physical and mental health – and it’s fun! Having pelvic floor problems does NOT mean that you have to quit exercise; but you do need to take more care, by following the tips below.
Avoid High Impact Cardio
The main type of exercise you need to avoid to stop your symptoms from worsening is ‘high impact’ cardio. This means any type of exercise that involves a lot of impact – this sort of movement will strain and weaken your pelvic floor. Unfortunately, this includes a lot of activities that are becoming increasingly popular with women, such as running, weightlifting and intense core exercises like crunches and squats.
A 2016 study in the journal of Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery  found that pelvic floor disorders are very common in female triathletes. 37.4% of women surveyed had stress incontinence, 16% had urge incontinence and 18% regularly experience pelvic pain. Triathlons involve long distance running and intense cycling; this type of endurance sport is likely not a good idea if you are already suffering from pelvic problems.
However, it's still possible to enjoy swimming, cycling and even running providing you stay conscious of your limits and don’t push yourself too hard. Physiotherapist Sue Croft has a good outlook on this:
We understand that if there’s a sport you really love it’s very difficult to come to terms with the idea that you may have to give it up. High impact exercising with a prolapse is risky but if you are determined to try it then please look out for these signs that your pelvic floor is being overloaded:
- Lower Back Pain: if your workout is causing you pain in your lower back that feels like period pains this is a sign that your prolapse is at risk.
- Pelvic Pressure: a heavy feeling in your pelvis is common with sports like weightlifting; avoid deadlifts and swap them for lower impact moves like wall squats.
- Bladder Problems: exercise can cause urinary incontinence whether or not you have a prolapse, but it’s a definite sign that your pelvic floor is weak.
- Bowel Problems: sports like running can sometimes cause diarrhoea, but it’s also a sign that your pelvic floor is being overloaded.
- Bleeding: exercise can irritate severe prolapses as it causes them to be rubbed and irritated by your clothing. Specialist sportswear like the EVB Sports range can help with this.
- Vaginal Bulge: any exercise that causes your prolapse to feel like it’s protruding more than usual is a very bad idea.
The difficulties of achieving safe exercise with prolapse can put you off doing anything. Having to give up an activity you enjoy can be absolutely heart-breaking, but exercising with a prolapse is possible! Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway has this advice:
Low Impact Exercise to Try
So, what are some pelvic floor safe exercises? Take a look at the list below for some ideas of low impact activities you can have a go at:
- Road cycling
- Low impact aerobics
- Water aerobics
- Pilates or yoga (avoiding core-straining moves)
- Gym equipment such as the elliptical and stationary bike
Why not ask a friend if they’d like to try a new exercise class with you? It’s entirely possible to get an effective and fun workout that has all the benefits of higher impact sports without the risk to your pelvic floor. Safe exercises for prolapse are also ideal as exercise after surgery or exercise after birth, as these life events have the same risks.
To make sure that your pelvic floor is totally protected during these activities, make sure you’re doing the other important type of exercise – pelvic floor exercise! Doing regular kegels with a Kegel8 pelvic toner will keep your symptoms under control. The Kegel8 Ultra 20 Pelvic Toner is an ideal choice to strengthen your pelvic floor and lessen symptoms like prolapse and incontinence. To find out which Kegel8 is a good choice for your lifestyle, try our Which Kegel8 is Right for Me? quiz.