A prolapsed uterus, with its symptoms of pain and pressure in your pelvis, is a common condition among women in the childbearing years and beyond. The underlying cause is a failure of the muscles of your pelvic floor to do their job of providing support to hold your uterus, bladder and other organs in optimal position. Pilates exercises are designed to improve pelvic stability and strength, along with core muscle and hip strength and function. Pilates can be an effective way to reposition your uterus.
Causes of a Prolapsed Uterus
A prolapsed uterus is a pelvic floor disorder caused by weakness in the muscles surrounding the floor of the pelvis. This disorder can be caused by many things, including pregnancy, vaginal delivery, obesity, chronic coughing, straining with lifting or bowel movements, or just lack of physical activity. Your pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles, ligaments and tissues which act like a hammock to support your uterus, bladder, and rectum. When the muscles are weakened, stretched, or damaged, support to your uterus is lost, causing it to protrude down into your vagina. The degree of prolapse can be mild to severe, depending on how damaged your pelvic floor muscles are.
Muscles of the Pelvic Floor
The pubococcygeus, or PC, muscle is a hammock-like muscle that stretches backward from the pubes toward the coccyx and forms a significant part of the pelvic floor. In addition to supporting your uterus, the PC plays an important role in preventing urinary and fecal incontinence. You engage the PC when you voluntarily stop the flow of urine. Other muscles that affect your uterine position include the diaphragm which attaches at the pubis and assists in spinal stability and respiration, the transversus abdominis which runs horizontally across the lower abdomen, and the rectus abdominis and low back muscles that help hold your pelvis in optimal alignment in relation to your spine.
Locating Your PC Muscle
To strengthen your PC muscle, you must first become aware of its location and function. One way is to insert a clean finger into your vagina and squeeze your vaginal muscles. When your feel the squeeze, you have tightened your PC muscle. Another way is to stop the flow of urine while you are urinating. The muscle you use to do this is your PC muscle. Do not make a habit of stopping your flow of urine or doing Kegels with a full bladder, however, because this can lead to a urinary tract infection.
Pilates Exercise for Uterine Prolapse
A supine hip lift is an effective exercise to tone and strengthen your pelvic floor. Begin lying on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor and hip width apart. Plant you hands palms-down next to your hips. Contract your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button toward the floor. Inhale and press your pelvis toward the ceiling, thrusting your hips upward until you form a straight line from your shoulder blades to your knees. Contract your PC muscle and hold for two to three seconds. Inhale and slowly return to your start position. Repeat three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. As this exercise becomes easier, increase your number of repetitions, or plant your feet on a stability ball to make the exercise more challenging.