Gardening: It’s beautiful, meditative, and creative. It brings you into the present moment, and to many, there is nothing more relaxing and therapeutic than spending the day with nature. We know how beneficial gardening is on a mental level, but is it good for us physically, especially if prolapse is involved?
Many active women with prolapse are surprised when they feel an increase in pelvic heaviness after gardening while remaining symptom-free after exercising, which is supposedly more strenuous. So what is it about gardening that makes it hard on prolapse?
It simply comes down to the fact that most of the work, if not all of it, is done on ground level. This requires you to get into positions that are quite provocative for prolapse, such as deep squatting. There is also the constant up-and-down motion to get from one place to the next, the “duck walking”, the bending forward, the reaching, the digging, and the list goes on. Multiply that by the long hours spent in those positions and it could leave you with a feeling of pelvic heaviness or pressure at the end of the day.
Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do while gardening that can help preserve your pelvic floor and the status of your prolapse.
Here are 4 Tips for Gardening if you Have Prolapse
1. Avoid Deep Squatting
Most gardeners find themselves in this classic gardening posture. Although convenient, a deep squat positions the hips far beneath the knees which fully lengthens the pelvic floor. This makes it challenging for the pelvic floor muscles to work and support the pelvic organs from the load above. We recommend women with prolapse use alternate postures to garden in.
2. Instead chose positions that:
Each posture below follows these two principles:
Sitting on a stool:
Gardening on all fours:
3. Don't Hold Your Breath
As you’re reaching to the back of the garden to pull out a weed or as you’re digging into the ground, watch that you’re not holding your breath. Be mindful of breathing especially when doing heavier tasks such as lifting, pulling, and digging.
4. Use your Foundation Breath Every Time you Stand Up
With the frequent sitting-to-standing involved in gardening, there is plenty of opportunity for downwards pressure to strain the pelvic floor and pelvic organ supportive tissue. Research shows that going from a sit-to-stand position can result in the same amount of intra-abdominal pressure as lifting 20 lbs off the ground (1)
One of the best ways to minimize this pressure is by breathing out and contracting your pelvic floor as we teach in our Foundation Series and in our previous video on standing up and sitting down:
At the end of your relaxing day of gardening, you might want to spend 15 minutes or more in this position of pelvic rest which nicely offsets the load of gravity from the activities of that day.
Also, if you plan on gardening, we recommend taking a break from other vigorous forms of activity for the rest of the day.
In summary, we want you to keep gardening and reap all the benefits it has to offer! Knowing that certain tasks and postures inside of gardening can affect your prolapse, you can simply choose alternate postures to garden in and be mindful of your breath throughout. That way, you can enjoy this rewarding hobby without worsening your prolapse.
Weir, L.F. et al. (2006). Obstet Gynecol. Postoperative activity restrictions: any evidence? 107(2 Pt 1):305-9.