18.4

The separation continues with 18.4, with handstand walks making their first appearance in the Open. This week is going to be an opportunity to get their first handstand push ups or handstand walks.

Injured Athletes

As a physical therapist, my professional recommendation is, if something hurts, don't do it.

Shoulder/arm injury:

  • This is not going to be a great workout for those dealing with shoulder pain most likely. The handstand push ups will likely definitely be an issue. Be sure to utilize a big kip if you are interested in going Rx.

  • For those going scaled, in my personal experience, hand release push ups are more tolerant than regular push ups for those who have shoulder issues.

  • Handstand walks- I highly recommend not attempting these unless you have solid shoulder/upper body strength. You should be able to do HSPU as Rx before going after handstand walking.

Hip/knee/leg injury:

  • This shouldn't be too bad for those with a lower body injury. However, I could see this possibly being an issue with the bear crawl. If this is the case, I would break up the bear walk in 5 foot increments as necessary.

Back injury:

  • Heavy deadlifts are probably not your friend if you have a back injury.

  • If you do decide to "belt up", please make sure you know how to properly use a weightlifting belt. It's more than just getting it as tight as possible- you should be bracing into the belt for extra support. It's like a biofeedback tool here.

  • I would do lots of glute/hamstring warm ups to get those primed and firing. The glutes and hamstrings should be doing the work on deadlifts- aka that's where you should feel it, and not your back.

  • A cue that helps me personal get my posterior chain to activate on deadlifts is trying to push your feet/heels into the ground as you begin to pull. If you think of it more as a "push" with the feet and less as a "pull", this can help better activate the posterior chain.

  • If you have a back injury, I would highly recommend scaling the deadlift weight at a minimum. Consider substituting the movement for something a little less scary for your back.

Pregnant Athletes

  • Piston breathing strategy is going to be huge here- please look up Julie Wiebe and piston breathing strategy if you have not already.

  • Deadlifts: I would highly recommend going in with an open mindset towards scaling the deadlift weight- risk vs reward here.

    • Utilize piston breathing strategy here.

    • Consider using a sumo stance if that is more comfortable for those who are farther along.

    • If it's uncomfortable to deadlift from the floor, another posterior chain movement would be a great substitute. An example movement I would consider would be kettlebell swing to shoulder height or eye level - no American style because of alignment considerations.

  • HSPU: Risk vs reward.

    • I would recommend seriously considering why you want to go upside down. Is it an ego thing?

    • There's a lot of risk with kicking up into the handstand, performing the movement and coming down. Also with the kipping the movement requires, there is a good chance there could be coning.

    • The movement itself may feel ok, but coming down one leg at a time may be painful- common with the changes the pelvis is undergoing.

    • I would recommend scaling this to a dumbbell press, or some other version of pressing that doesn't require you going upside down.

  • HRPU: Probably not the best idea if you've got any sort of a belly.

    • You can elevate your hands to dumbbells, box, bench, etc.

    • Make sure there is no coning!

    • Scale to knees if necessary as well.

  • Handstand Walks: Risk vs reward...again. I would not recommend any pregnant woman do handstand walks.

    • Take everything I said about the HSPU, plus the increased risk off falling associated with handstand walks.

    • Being pregnant changes our weight distribution. While handstand walks may have been fine before, your body is changing and this may prove to be challenging and put you at risk if attempting.

  • Bear Crawl: This is a tricky movement to scale.

    • Bear crawl may be fine for those who are earlier in their pregnancy. Just make sure there's no coning, and no symptoms.

    • For those who have some symptoms, I would recommend scaling to a sled push/pull. Other options that may be easier due to equipment limitations- farmer's carry or partner wheelbarrow carry.

Postpartum Athletes

  • If you aren't using a good strategy like the piston breathing strategy, please look up Julie Wiebe and the piston breathing strategy. It is literally a game changer.

  • Deadlifts: I would highly recommend going in with an open mindset towards scaling the deadlift weight- risk vs reward here.

    • Utilize piston breathing strategy here.

    • Consider using a kettlebell to a box or plate if depth is an issue.

    • I would not recommend using a belt. If you feel the need to use a belt because your core isn't strong enough or needs support, you shouldn't be doing that much weight.

  • HSPU: Risk vs reward.

    • I would not recommend going upside down if you are early postpartum.

    • Consider if you have a diastasis (if you don't know if you have one or not, I highly recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist), that additional stress will be put on your abdominals with going upside down and kipping.

    • Being upside takes a lot of core strength, and chances are the core isn't 100% yet. Don't worry, you gave birth to a human, it's ok for things to take time to heal!

    • Please stop if you have anything symptoms or pain, and scale instead.

    • I would recommend scaling this to a dumbbell press, or perhaps box HSPU if you can perform with good alignment, no symptoms or coning.

  • HRPU: Adjust according so you can perform with no coning.

    • You can elevate your hands to dumbbells, box, bench, etc.

    • Scale to knees if necessary as well.

    • Another option is laying on your back and doing a dumbbell press.

  • Handstand Walks: Risk vs reward...again. I would not recommend any recently postpartum woman do handstand walks.

    • Take everything I said about the HSPU, plus the increased demand on your core to stabilize.

    • IF you do decide to attempt handstand walks, please have a coach take a look at your alignment. If you are going into a lot of trunk extension, with your legs dangling & making that weird "C" position, that's going to put a lot of extra stress on your abdominals and what is likely a healing diastasis.

    • Can you go upside down without coning?

    • Scale to the scaled version or consider handstand holds/taps if appropriate, AND can be performed with good alignment and no symptoms!

  • Bear Crawl:

    • Focus on your breathing and strategy here. Can you be in this position without any coning? Do you have any symptoms.

    • For those who have some symptoms, I would recommend scaling to either hand/knee crawling or a sled push/pull. Other options that may be easier due to equipment limitations- farmer's carry or partner wheelbarrow carry.

Coaches - 

When considering scaling an athlete, try to keep in the mind what functional movement is being performed. Is it a variation of the squat, hinge, pull, push, etc.? Try to maintain the integrity of the functional movement, while modifying it a level that is appropriate for your individual athletes. If you would like to learn more about coaching pregnant and postpartum athletes, please look into Brianna Battles' coaching courses here. For questions regarding scaling/modifications for the injured athlete, please feel free to contact me and/or work directly with the athlete's healthcare provider.

***All pregnant and postpartum women should have their physician's approval to workout. If you don't, please do not workout. If you have any physician restrictions, to ignore them is placing you and your baby's health in jeopardy.

***I recommend all postpartum women get assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Find one by you here. I also highly recommend finding a Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism coach by you to go over strategy with specific exercises, programming and recommendations. Find one here.

***At any sight of coning with any movement, stop. Take more breaks as needed, if it's due to fatigue. Focus on your breathing and movement strategy.

If you have specific questions regarding this post, please comment below or contact via social media or email. I'm happy to help- but remember my advice is not accompanied with a hands-on assessment, which is the best way to make recommendations. If you are interested in meeting with me, please contact me. If you're interested in finding an appropriate healthcare provider/coach, please contact me and I will do my best to help you find one.