Core Fitness Exercises to Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is to build your core strength with a range of core fitness exercises. Your core is made up of several muscle groups across the abdomen,attaching to the pelvis and spine. They provide stability for balance and movement, and support for your internal organs. Improving your core fitness means more than working on sculpting the perfect six-pack. These muscles all work together and they need to be strengthened together.
When we talk about pelvic organ prolapse, we’re referring to a result of pelvic floor dysfunction. The pelvic floor is a core muscle group that acts like a hammock to protect and hold in place the lower organs, such as the bladder, urethra, bowels, and in women, the uterus. Prolapse occurs when these muscles are not supporting as they should and one or more pelvic organs descend into, or protrude from, the vaginal canal (in women) or anus (in men or women).
What Causes Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
That is a tricky question. The truth is, there is no one answer. Many factors contribute to your risk of suffering POP. Generally speaking, anything that weakens the pelvic floor will make prolapse more likely. Women face a greater chance of experiencing POP post-childbirth because the muscles and ligaments in the pelvis have been stretched and strained from both carrying and delivering a baby.
Genetics also plays a part in your risk level. Both women and men can be genetically more or less likely to experience weakening, stretching, or over-tightening of pelvic muscles.
Lifestyle choices, like smoking or unhealthy eating habits, can also raise your chances of pelvic floor dysfunction and POP. Being overweight makes you more likely to suffer POP. And chronic constipation, resulting in straining and pushing, is very hard on your pelvic region/floor. So a diet with plenty of fibre and fluids is very important.
Exercise as a Preventative Measure
So what can you do to prevent POP? Perhaps the best way to reduce your risk of prolapse is to support your core fitness with regular exercise. Remember that your core is made up of several large muscle groups and it’s very important to work them all so your muscles remain in balance.
Here are a few ideas when it comes to core fitness exercises:
- Practice Kegels and other exercises to strengthen a weakened pelvic floor. Try these five exercises.
- Try Pilates moves like the bridge to support and strengthen your core in a way that doesn’t strain the pelvic floor. Check out these three moves.
- Include gentle strengthening exercises that engage your entire core.
Not All Exercise Is Right For You
If you are already suffering from POP, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, you might need to take a different approach. Talk to a pelvic floor physiotherapist before you start any kind of exercise program to see what will help and what might make your problems worse!
It’s also important to realize that the pelvic floor can be too lax OR too tight. You won’t be able to strengthen your pelvic muscles if they are already tight or strained. And even worse, you could cause further concerns.
Take a Proactive Approach and Lower Your Chances of Prolapse
The best way to deal with POP is to stop it before it starts. Choose healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Regular core fitness exercises will keep your core muscle groups in top form to protect and support your pelvic organs. And talk to a professional to learn more about how you can take steps toward a prolapse-free future.
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