Young Athletes Have Prolapse Too
Prolapse is like equal opportunity employment, it does not discriminate. Being young and healthy does not make you immune to prolapse.
Prolapse doesn’t just randomly happen. There’s always a cause, whether it is childbirth/pregnancy, obesity, chronic coughing or simply your years catching up to you.
If you’re an athletic gyal who has been pretty health conscious for most of your life, then you might be confused as to what this has to do with you. You’re not pregnant, you’re clearly in shape, you have no respiratory illness and you’re not up in your years.
But while you are admiring your firm butt and tone legs, you could very well be setting yourself up for Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Not convinced? Well, we’ll prove just how to you. We’ll also talk about 7 alternatives to weight lifting that can give you the same results without sacrificing your pelvic floor health and putting you at risk of developing Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Who is likely to get Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is a group pelvic floor disorders with symptoms such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and a bulge in the vagina which affects women.
Pelvic Floor Disorders affect 1 in 5 women in the United States with the most prevalent symptom being urinary incontinence then fecal incontinence. Of this 20% of women, approximately 3% suffer from some degree of Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Of this 3%, the women are more likely to be older and are more like to be Caucasian or Latino descent than African American descent. Since symptoms are underreported the rate of prolapse is most likely higher.
And before you go, “Well, I’m young and Black/Asian so I’ll be fine”, you are not exempt and it can happen to you if you’re not careful.
What is the relationship between weight lifting and prolapse?
Lifting weight using the wrong technique, lifting too heavy and lifting too soon postpartum can have a negative effect on your pelvic floor muscles. Anything that causes your abdominal pressure to increase have the potential to weaken those pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is caused by one thing: weak pelvic floor muscles . The way it weakens will vary.
The thing is, the pelvic floor muscles are like a trampoline or sorts and on that trampoline rests organs such as the bladder, uterus, colon, urethra, and vagina. Its job is to keep them in their respective places and control actions such as peeing, pooping or delivering a baby.
When it weakens or becomes loose, the pelvic floor sinks. When this happens all the organs that lay on top of it sink as well, but they start sinking into the vagina. This “sink” can be mild and only cause minor discomfort, and it can be so severe that there is a noticeable bulge outside of the vaginal entrance.
Well if you’re lifting, then the muscles should be strong and this shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong again.
For instance, intense high impact exercises that involve weights can place too much pressure on the pelvic floor, way more than is needed and for way too long. This does strain the pelvic floor.
When you do exercises without contacting or bracing your pelvic floor for the impact, you can also strain your pelvic floor.
The effects of this are not usually felt immediately but if you continue in this way, you can end up developing prolapse.
7 ways you can strengthen and tone your body without using weights
Before you think about quitting your gym membership, there are still ways you can strengthen and tone the body without even having to use traditional weights.
Here are 7 alternatives:
Resistance bands are stretchy, flexible bands used during exercise for strength training. These are a good alternative to weight lifting since they offer all the benefits, without the unnecessary risk.
Resistance bands come in different lengths, sizes, colors and tensions/strengths. They are easy to store and transport and can be used without needing a trainer to spot you. Plus they are super affordable.
Using a resistance band involves you using muscular strength to stretch it. The harder you stretch, is the greater the resistance will be. This way, you have more control over your workout.
Using a resistance band is low impact, and generally safe, but always ensure that you choose appropriate exercises and don’t overdo it. To avoid strain, use the resistance band in a supported position, for instance, while seated or against a wall.
Medicine balls, sometimes called exercise balls or fitness balls, are weighted spheres used to improve muscle strength. Medicine balls come in a variety of different weights and can be tossed or used in a manner similar to dumbells for exercise.
It can be tempting to choose a heavy ball, but you are better off starting with a lighter weight and going from there. Think about it this way, lifting with a 10lb weight, is much different from doing a wide range of exercises and tossing about a 10lb ball and you’ll start to get tired and strain more easily than with a dumbbell.
When using medicine balls for Pelvic Organ Prolapse, avoid exercises that involve deep squats, overhead raises, and tosses, jumping, skipping or hopping. This can cause strain to the pelvic floor. Instead, try walking with your medicine balls or modified versions of the above.
SandBells are a newer type of weighted instrument used for exercise that combines everything we love about dumbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, slam balls, and sandbags.
SandBells are made of a special type of material called neoprene that is both flexible and firm that makes the weight very versatile. Inside oare fine grains of sand that typically come in weights from 2-50 lbs, depending on the user and can even be stacked.
With prolapse, you shouldn’t strive for the heaviest weight, since you run the risk of making your condition worse. If possible, purchase SandBells that allow you to put the sand in yourself so you can have the perfect weights based on your comfort level and degree of prolapse.
Use SandBells as you would a medicine ball or dumbbell, but always remember to consider the exercise you plan to attempt and if it is prolapse friendly.
Battle ropes, or heavy ropes, are another way you can build strength and lose weight with prolapse. Battle ropes are thick, heavy ropes that were designed to offer resistance when pulled, slammed or moved in a wave. Other weights may also be added to battle ropes while it is being pulled to offer extra resistance.
Using battle ropes is a low impact exercise that is fun to do, especially when traditional low impact exercise becomes boring. While using the ropes, you can get a full-body workout while also improving your balance and coordination.
Yoga doesn’t just ease the mind and bring peace and calmness. It is also a great form of exercise that can increase strength, improve flexibility and promote balance and coordination.
If yoga is your go-to workout when living with prolapse, your trainer or teacher should be made aware of your condition. If you work out alone, bear these tips in mind:
• Focus on poses that promote breathing and support pelvic health- Some of these include the Mula bandha (the root), pranayama, tadasana (mountain pose) and certain inversions like the wallflower stretch and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand). Note that inversions are for persons with experience in yoga and should not be attempted by beginners without guidance.
Low impact pilates can target the entire body without placing too much strain on the pelvic floor. Doing Pilates can help to tone muscles, improve flexibility and balance, give you better posture, and even shed a few pounds.
To achieve pelvic floor friendly pilates, modify moves that involve crunching or leg lifts by standing, using the wall for support, sitting, increase breathing, and in some cases, avoid them altogether.
Cardio is not only good for getting that heart rate up or losing weight. It can also help you to build lean muscle and increase your strength.
Low-impact cardio is cardio that involves having one or both feet on the ground. Meaning, no running, skipping, jumping, hopping, or slamming. You should also avoid bending and crunching as much as possible. This is so the pelvic floor muscles do not become overworked or strain which can cause pain, discomfort, and further prolapse.
Here are some good low-impact cardio exercises for prolapse:
Intense weight lifting can cause further damage to your pelvic floor. To reap the same benefit of weight lifting without worsening prolapse, trade-in your dumbells for medicine balls and sandbells.
Resistance bands and battle ropes can also be used and are a safe way to add resistance to your workout without too much strain. Other exercises that help to tone muscle and shed fat include yoga, pilates, and low impact cardio.