“Should I stop doing jumping exercises in pregnancy?”
High impact exercises like jumping and double unders are pretty demanding dynamic movements and because I get asked about them often, I’m sharing some considerations to take and how you can make adjustments to your training to accommodate your evolving body, while also supporting your core and pelvic floor health through pregnancy and beyond.
Any type of high impact exercise requires some strength and stamina to efficiently perform the exercise. Movements like jumping rope (double unders, singles, triples), box jumps, broad jumps/bounds, etc. all fall under this category and they tend to put more pressure on your pelvic floor which is already a bit vulnerable in pregnancy.
For more information and considerations more specific to running in pregnancy, check out THIS blog.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor isn’t able to respond as effectively (as when not pregnant) to higher impact movements because of the baby and added stress it’s placing on the pelvic floor. Your growing baby (or babies if having multiples) increases the pressure in your abdominal cavity. An increase in pressure in the abdominal cavity means an increase in pressure on the pelvic floor which means an increase in stress on the pelvic floor. This increase in stress can result in a higher chance of pelvic floor issues.
How do you know if it’s time to take a break from higher impact exercises?
It will vary from woman to woman as far as when she should put a pause on these exercises. One woman may be fine continuing them well into the second trimester when another woman may need to stop sooner in the first trimester. What works for one woman may not work for the next, so it’s important to take your individual circumstances into consideration.
These are general considerations that I personally use and take with my clients to decide how to proceed in a way that will best support the athlete long term. I also take each woman's specific circumstances, history, goals, etc. into consideration when helping her decide the best approach for her.
Here are a few things to “listen for” when considering if it’s time to take a break:
ANY amount of unintentional leaking (urine or feces)
Pelvic pain or pressure
Heaviness or a bulge feeling in the vagina
Pain during or after exercise (back, hips, pelvic, belly)
Pulling sensations in the abdomen or pelvis
If you experience any of these symptoms, I would highly suggest choosing another exercise and consulting with a pelvic floor physical therapist and a pregnancy and postpartum exercise specialist.
Important note: Incontinence (aka peeing) with jumping or really any type of exercise is not something to ignore at any time (not just in pregnancy or early postpartum). Even though it is often brushed off because it commonly happens to women, it doesn’t mean it is something you just have to live with and stick a pad on.
Remember that this won’t be forever, just for now and it can really help set you up long term!
What can you do instead?
The great thing is that there are many great options for substitutes for high impact exercises. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Banded walks (lateral and monster)
Walking, uphill walking
Burpee modifications (read about burpees in THIS blog post)
Carries (farmer’s, front rack, suitcase, waiter’s walk, etc.)
A quick note on double unders: although single unders can be considered a substitution for double unders, single or regular jump roping doesn't necessarily place less stress on the pelvic floor, so I wouldn't suggest them as a sub during pregnancy.
These are just some options that you can use as substitutes; get creative to maintain versatility in your training.
As a reminder, just because you can still jump rope or do box jumps at 20+ weeks pregnant, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option. The rewards rarely outweigh the risks to your core and pelvic floor. There are many different ways you can maintain your stamina during pregnancy without placing more stress on your body.
Making informed decisions about what is most appropriate for you and your body can help you maintain activity, without pain or symptoms, and help with recovery postpartum.
Want more info on how you can navigate symptoms, exercise, and your journey? Fill out this form to schedule a FREE call with me to discuss how you can get better guidance with exercise and managing symptoms in pregnancy!