Exercises for Pelvic Organ Prolapse That Physical Therapists Recommend

Pelvic floor exercise can help reduce prolapse symptoms and improve pelvic floor muscle strength. Find relief with these pelvic organ prolapse exercises.

Published Date: May 14, 2024
woman-laying-on-the-floor-lifting-her-pelvis-doing-the-bridge-exercise

Exercises for Pelvic Organ Prolapse That Physical Therapists Recommend

Pelvic floor exercise can help reduce prolapse symptoms and improve pelvic floor muscle strength. Find relief with these pelvic organ prolapse exercises.

Published Date: May 14, 2024
woman-laying-on-the-floor-lifting-her-pelvis-doing-the-bridge-exercise

Exercises for Pelvic Organ Prolapse That Physical Therapists Recommend

Pelvic floor exercise can help reduce prolapse symptoms and improve pelvic floor muscle strength. Find relief with these pelvic organ prolapse exercises.

Published Date: May 14, 2024
woman-laying-on-the-floor-lifting-her-pelvis-doing-the-bridge-exercise

Exercises for Pelvic Organ Prolapse That Physical Therapists Recommend

Pelvic floor exercise can help reduce prolapse symptoms and improve pelvic floor muscle strength. Find relief with these pelvic organ prolapse exercises.

Published Date: May 14, 2024
woman-laying-on-the-floor-lifting-her-pelvis-doing-the-bridge-exercise
Table of Contents

Something is bulging into your vagina. It might be your uterus. Or maybe it’s your bladder or rectum. You might not feel a bulge, but you notice pelvic pressure or fullness. Either way, pelvic organ prolapse can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Maybe you don’t want to talk or even think about it. So, you pretend it’s not happening — or resolve to do non-stop Kegel exercises until your organs make their way back to their proper place.

Are we close?

If so, please hear this: Pelvic organ prolapse is common. In fact, studies show up to 50% of women will develop it over their lifetime. 

Read on to learn about the best pelvic organ prolapse exercises so you can get relief.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Kandis Daroski, PT, DPT
Pelvic Health Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Daroski is a pelvic health physical therapist who provides clinical expertise for the Hinge Health Women's Pelvic Health Program.
Tamara Grisales, MD
Expert Physician in Urogynecology and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Grisales is a board-certified urogynecologist and surgeon and oversees the Women's Pelvic Health program at Hinge Health.

Can You Fix Pelvic Organ Prolapse with Exercise?

Pelvic organ prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that stretch like a hammock from your pubic bone in the front to your tailbone in the back. It helps hold pelvic organs (such as your bladder, uterus, and rectum) in place, and plays a role in bladder control, bowel control, and sexual function.  

If your pelvic floor muscles become weak or damaged, one or more of the pelvic organs they support may prolapse, or drop down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. There are several types of pelvic prolapse, depending on which organs are affected. For example, uterine prolapse is when the uterus shifts out of place. Rectocele is when the rectum bulges into the vaginal wall. 

Because pelvic floor muscle weakness can contribute to organ prolapse, pelvic organ prolapse exercises and physical therapy is often the first line of treatment. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles can help reduce symptoms of prolapse, such as heaviness in your pelvis or the feeling that something is bulging out of your vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse exercises — which strengthen the pelvic floor — can also help improve other conditions that can occur along with pelvic organ prolapse, such as urinary incontinence (or leakage) and fecal incontinence.

A pelvic floor physical therapist (PT) can help determine the best exercises and treatment options for you. You can see a PT in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via a telehealth video visit. Pelvic floor physical therapy is a comprehensive treatment that also includes education and behavioral and lifestyle strategies.

Do Kegels Help Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The short answer: “yes, but.” Yes: Kegel exercises are certainly effective at reducing pelvic organ prolapse symptoms. But: They’re not the whole story when it comes to effective prolapse treatment. Many other pelvic exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and surrounding muscles to better support your pelvic organs. Kegels are just one part of a well-rounded pelvic floor physical therapy program that may include other pelvic and whole-body exercises, relaxation techniques, behavioral training, lifestyle modifications, biofeedback training, and more.

What Exercises Are Good for Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

The exercises below engage the muscles responsible for supporting your pelvic organs, help improve pelvic mobility, and manage abdominal pressure. An exercise program that focuses on strength and mobility can help reduce symptoms of prolapse as well as treat it.

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1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as deep belly breathing, the goal of diaphragmatic breathing is to help manage abdominal pressure. Focusing on controlled, even breathing during exercise or other activities can reduce pressure on your pelvic organs. You can also try diaphragmatic breathing with your legs propped against a wall to help relieve prolapse sensations of heaviness or pressure.

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 

  • Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. 

  • Now, slowly inhale as you fill your belly with air so your hand on your belly rises up towards the ceiling. The hand on your chest remains mostly still.

  • Focus on staying relaxed as you hold that breath in your belly.

  • Then, slowly breathe out so the hand on your belly lowers with you. 

  • As you do each rep, you should feel your hand on your belly moving more than your hand on your chest. 

2. Hooklying Kegel

2. Hooklying Kegel

Hooklying Kegels are one of the best ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, improve bowel and bladder control, and provide support to organs in the pelvis.

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Now, slowly contract your pelvic floor muscles by gently squeezing the muscles around your vagina and anus. 

  • It might feel like your muscles are gently being pulled up and into your body as you hold this position. 

  • You are using the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine or prevent yourself from passing gas.

  • Then, slowly release the contraction by relaxing your muscles. 

  • As you do each rep, you should feel your pelvic floor muscles working.

3. Alternating Pelvic Tilt

3. Alternating Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts improve pelvic mobility and activate the core muscles and build strength to support your body with everyday tasks, like squatting and lifting.

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 

  • Now relax your abdominal muscles to arch your lower back away from the floor. 

  • Focus on relaxed breathing as you hold this position.

  • Then, return to the starting position.

  • Next, tighten your abdominal and butt muscles to flatten your lower back towards the floor. 

  • Focus on keeping your abdominal muscles engaged as you hold this position.

  • Relax and return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your hips, core, and pelvic floor muscles working.

4. Bridge

4. Bridge

Bridge exercise is a great way to coordinate your breathing with your pelvic floor, core, and lower body muscles. This exercise also helps manage abdominal pressure during movement which can reduce symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. You can also try combining it with a Kegel to target your pelvic floor muscles when you raise your hips off the floor.

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Then, push through your feet to raise your hips off the floor. Focus on squeezing your butt muscles as you hold this position.

  • Relax your hips back to the floor.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your butt, hip, and leg muscles working.

5. Bridge March

5. Bridge March

Bridge march is a great exercise to strengthen your hips for single leg activities like hiking and going up and down stairs. Having strong hip muscles in the single leg position reduces the load on pelvic floor muscles and can help alleviate symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Tighten your butt muscles and push through your feet to raise your hips off the floor.

  • Now, lift one foot off the floor maintaining a bend in your knee.

  • Hold this position as you continue to squeeze your butt.

  • Then, lower your foot back to the floor. Continue to keep your hips raised.

  • Next, lift your opposite foot and hold.

  • Relax your foot back to the floor.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your hip and core muscles working.

6. Single Leg RDL

6. Single Leg RDL

Single leg RDL targets the posterior chain, which includes your back, glutes, hamstrings, and lower leg muscles. A strong and stable posterior chain builds resilience for sports and lifting activities like picking up heavy objects from the floor.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart.

  • Now move your chest towards the floor by hinging at your hips.  Lift one leg off the floor behind you and up toward the ceiling. 

  • Your knee can be slightly bent as you hinge. 

  • Focus your eyes on a spot on the floor to help with balance as you hold this position.

  • Slowly return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your hip and leg muscles working.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

PT Tip: Breathing is Key

“Learning to manage abdominal pressure with proper breathing techniques is key to treating prolapse,” says Kandis Daroski, PT, DPT, a Hinge Health pelvic floor physical therapist. “Avoid holding your breath or straining with any daily activities that increase pressure in your abdomen, like exercising, lifting something, or having a bowel movement. Instead, focus on breathing deeply and evenly to help reduce pressure on your pelvic organs.” 

This helps reduce pressure exerted on your pelvic organs, which can contribute to prolapse. During exercise or lifting, exhale on the “hard part” of the lift or exercise. For example, when picking up your laundry basket, exhale when you lift the basket up.

Learn More About Hinge Health for Pelvic Symptom Relief

If you have pelvic pain or symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, you can get the relief you've been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Aboseif, C., & Liu, P. (2021). Pelvic Organ Prolapse. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563229/

  2. Ansari, Md. K., Sharma, P. P., & Khan, S. (2021). Pelvic Organ Prolapse in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India, 72(3), 250–257. doi:10.1007/s13224-021-01524-8

  3. Carroll, L., O’ Sullivan, C., Doody, C., Perrotta, C., & Fullen, B. (2022). Pelvic organ prolapse: The lived experience. PLOS ONE, 17(11), e0276788. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0276788

  4. Giri, A., Hartmann, K. E., Hellwege, J. N., Velez Edwards, D. R., & Edwards, T. L. (2017). Obesity and pelvic organ prolapse: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 217(1), 11-26.e3.  doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2017.01.039

  5. Iglesia, C. B., & Smithling, K. R. (2017). Pelvic Organ Prolapse. American Family Physician, 96(3), 179–185. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2017/0801/p179.html

  6. Vergeldt, T. F. M., Weemhoff, M., IntHout, J., & Kluivers, K. B. (2015). Risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse and its recurrence: a systematic review. International Urogynecology Journal, 26(11), 1559–1573. doi:10.1007/s00192-015-2695-8

  7. Wallace, S. L., Miller, L. D., & Mishra, K. (2019). Pelvic floor physical therapy in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in women. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 31(6), 485–493. doi:10.1097/gco.0000000000000584