Welcome to the fifth week of #WorkoutWednesday - I go a little further back in the programming archives this week for a day of programming from March 2017. Now that I know more about coaching and scaling during pregnancy (and postpartum), it's interesting for me to look back at workouts I performed while pregnant and how I would scale them differently now.
Again, special thanks to my hubby, Bill Bacarella, owner & head coach of Light the Fire CrossFit, for allowing me to use his programming for this series of blog posts.
For my pregnant and newly postpartum athletes, I would have them use a monostructural modality for the duration of the tabata- such as the bike or rower (no symptoms!)
For postpartum athletes, I only recommend running if cleared by pelvic floor PT and has no symptoms.
If someone has just been cleared to run, this is a great opportunity to see how they do, with a short distance.
For postpartum athletes who are cleared to run/try jumping, I would have them start with jumping in place with feet together.
Focus on alignment during jumping- keeping ribs stacked over the pelvis.
If athletes begin to cone with planks (push up and side), modify them to an incline style to decrease the demand on the core.
Once a pregnant athlete begins to show, modify arch holds to a different position. I would choose a supine bridge hold.
For postpartum athletes, I would recommend starting off with pulling up either the chest OR the legs in the arch position- and build from there.
I may also recommend postpartum athletes choose a different position than the arch if they have a healing diastasis.
Athletes should not be holding their breath during any portion of the routine. Exhale!
Modify push ups as appropriate for the athlete so there are no symptoms.
Inhale down, exhale up!
Focus should be on continuing to move with strategy- not "building strength"!
Elevate hands on dumbbells for all options performed on the floor once the belly is showing. Lower to depth of shoulders to the dumbbells.
Options for modifications:
Regular push-ups, elevating hands on dumbbells to make room for belly.
Push-ups on knees, still elevate hands on dumbbells.
Incline push-ups with hands on box, bench or wall.
Decrease the load for bent over rows- again monitor for symptoms!
Inhale down, exhale up!
No holding breath.
Modify bent over rows to ring rows if it becomes symptomatic.
Inhale down, exhale up!
I do not recommend that pregnant athletes jump rope. See earlier in this post for a link to my blog post on this topic.
I do not recommend that postpartum athletes jump rope until cleared for impact as well by a pelvic floor PT.
Once cleared, begin with single singles, and slowly build from there.
There should be NO symptoms!!!
Rather than go for reps, I recommend the athlete perform the movement for a certain period of times, i.e. 20 reps = 30 seconds.
Optional movements would be other monostructural movements (bike, row, etc.).
Perform for an amount of time that is consistent with how long it would take to perform "X" amount of DU.
Sit ups: Pregnant athletes SHOULD NOT PERFORM this movement. I also don't recommend postpartum athletes perform until it has been determined they have good strategy and can perform with no symptoms (coning). At least 12 weeks postpartum, most likely more.
Couple options for scaling here- either choose a movement that also has hip/trunk flexion or an isometric core contraction.
Some examples would be slamballs, KBS, bridges, etc.
Isometric contractions would be plank hold, overhold hold or farmer's carry.
Hang squat cleans:
Pregnant and newly postpartum athletes (16 weeks or less at the minimum) should perform hang power cleans, and avoid the additional stress that the full clean position would place on their pelvic floor.
Modify the weight as necessary, so the athlete can perform the movement in 2-3 sets.
Exhale during the pull and "catch". Inhale back to the hang position.
If there are any symptoms with this movement, most likely "leaking" or not feeling right in the pelvic floor, scale the movement.
For pregnant athletes, consider using dumbbells instead, to avoid hitting the bump!
At the time I did this workout, I was roughly 13 weeks pregnant, we had just announced our pregnancy 2 weeks prior (I was starting to show & couldn't hide it- plus people were noticing my routines and food was different, and I'm a creature of habit). Based on what I logged, I performed the double unders and I'm assuming the sit ups as well because I didn't note otherwise. Barbell was at 85#.
Looking back, I would have scaled my jump rope to another monostructural modality such as the bike or rower- no need for that added stress on my pelvic floor. To read more about my "why" on this, check out my post from July 1st here. Definitely would've scaled sit ups as well, no need for that additional stress to my abs. Probably would've chosen slamballs at this point in my pregnancy. I may have lightened up the barbell, but that would be because I'd also recommend hang power cleans instead of hang squat cleans. Catching the barbell in a squat, especially if it's heavy or a lot of reps, will put stress on the pelvic floor as well. Live & learn! My mindset at this time is a little different now- this was all pre-Brianna Battles!
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 course 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. Stop if you begin experiencing "leaking", sensation of something "falling out" and/or anything that doesn't feel right. Take more breaks as needed, if it's due to fatigue. Focus on your breathing and movement strategy. If you continue to have symptoms, scale the movement more or stop the workout. If you haven't consulted with a healthcare provider and/or postpartum fitness specialist regarding your symptoms, please do.
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.