Plyometric exercises are a style of "power" training to help develop both speed and power. Most people relate plyometrics to jumping- which is accurate- but there are some upper body exercises too! However, there is definitely just cause to avoid plyometric exercises as a new mom. In fact, postpartum jumping exercises can be extremely detrimental. Learn more about why to avoid plyometrics postpartum and what to do instead!
If you're a new-ish mom you're probably starting to wonder about getting back into an exercise program. Whether your goals are strength, weight, or health-related you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about what type of program is right for you.
Bootcamp? P90X? Crossfit? Yoga? There's a lot of options.
You may be thinking that more intensity = more results. That you're going to need to sweat, cry and gasp in order to improve.
But you're wrong.
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In fact, new moms should seriously avoid plyometric exercises.
What Are Plyometric Exercises & How Do They Fit Into Workout Programs?
Plyometrics are a style of training most often used with athletes who have developed a great baseline of strength. However, everyday fitness programs use them too.
You're probably more familiar with them as:
- jump squats
- bench hops
Jumping exercises are essentially plyometric training. And unfortunately, many fitness programs (like bootcamps and intervals) are geared towards new moms and use these exercises. Mainly, because they provide a nice base for interval training and intervals get results.
And while I personally love plyometric exercises, they simply should be geared towards new moms.
Why To Avoid Plyometric Exercises As A New Mom
You may have noticed as a mom that your body is a bit different than it was before you were pregnant. It could be bigger, looser, squishier, smaller etc. Regardless, it's different. And it should be! You just spent nine long months growing life inside you and accommodating the space of another human.
And between pregnancy and birth itself your body has adjusted, adapted, and changed (not for the worse don't worry!). This change, however, if part of the reason that jumping postpartum isn't safe.
This doesn't that you can never jump again. Far from it! Nor does it mean you can't work out. Just that there are better options to begin with. In fact, when it comes to postpartum exercises the first steps should include:
- an appointment with a pelvic floor physio if possible (learn more about what they do exactly here)
- using postpartum ab exercises to help rehab and reconnect
- work on glute strength and mobility to prevent postpartum back pain
- ease into an appropriate, low-impact, progressive program
Reason #1 To Avoid Plyometric Exercises As A New Mom: Be Nice To Your Pelvic Floor
You've heard of your pelvic floor, right? Probably in reference to kegals that everyone preaches about. But your pelvic floor is so much more encompassing. In fact, this particular group of muscles is responsible for holding in some of your organs and supporting your body.
And boy, do they get worked in pregnancy! Along with the downward pressure throughout pregnancy, the pelvic floor is also challenged throughout the birth process (regardless of how you deliver).
This means that at the end of it all, your pelvic floor is left feeling a bit weak and worn out. Learn more about what exactly your pelvic floor does and how it impacts you.
Now let's look at the art of jumping. Upon landing one could say that there is a lot of pressure going down. Meaning, when you reconnect with the ground everything shifts down for a moment before your body recovers.
If the group of muscles holding in your organs and working overtime to support you in daily movements is weak, do you think that placing more pressure and a higher impact on that group with high repetition is going to improve it? Not so much.
In fact, it can make it worse. That group of muscles isn't strong enough for the impact (regardless of your kegals) and pushing them through high repetitions (like twenty jump squats) isn't the way to strengthen them. Jumping exercises postpartum can cause more leaking and stress on your pelvic floor.
Reason To Avoid Postpartum Jumping Exercises #2 The Hormone Relaxin
This is probably something else you heard of while pregnant. Though possibly not as much. When you're pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin. The purpose of this hormone is to loosen your connective tissues around the joints so that your body can expand and accommodate pregnancy.
Basically, this hormone makes your joints a bit unstable (which is why I think it's so necessary to keep your glutes, a stabilizer, strong while pregnant!)
Fun fact: The hormone relaxin has been known to stay in your body for up a year post-pregnancy. Which means no matter how strong you are something is working against you.
So again, let's look at jump squats. If you have unstable hips, placing them in a position where they have to work to stabilize you from a high impact landing repetitively isn't how to get strong.
All you're doing is wearing out your joints and tiring your muscles without giving them a chance to stabilize you or recover. This is a huge risk of injury. Huge.
If your body is working hard to strengthen around your joints with daily movements like walking and squatting, it's not going to be capable enough to support you when you add intense impact to them.
Why To Avoid Postpartum Jumping Exercises #3: You're Just Not Strong Enough
Please don't take offense to this. I'm not saying you're not strong and capable. Nor am I saying you should never jump again. I'm just saying you're not there yet.
Plyometrics were designed for optimal sports performance. Not only does your technique need to be spot on but your body needs to have a baseline of strength before you can execute and reap the benefits of this type of exercise.
And immediately post-pregnancy, your body doesn't have that baseline. I'm sorry but it doesn't. If you're still struggling with being strong, adding high repetition impact to basic exercises isn't going to improve your strength, it will injure you.
Say your knees cave-in at the bottom of those jump squats. Over and over. Every single time you do them. Your legs aren't becoming more efficient, they're being set up for injury (FYI strengthening the glutes is how you fix the knee issue)
There are better ways to train.
Don't forget to pin these crucial reasons to avoid plyometric exercises as a new mom!
How To Achieve Goals Without Jumping Exercises Postpartum
So what the hell are you supposed to do if you want to increase strength, lose weight, or improve your health? Like I said earlier, this doesn't mean you can't work out! Please stay active!
Instead though, start by ensuring your body functions optimally with the steps I mentioned at the beginning. From there, focus on mastering the basic exercises moms need day-to-day. From there focus on getting strong so you can play with kids (this is only one benefits of strength training!).
And eventually, yes you can add in jump exercises to your workouts! But I urge you to focus on the basics first. Feel strong in squatting, pushing, pulling, and ensure you don't have back pain. There's always an option for a non-jump exercise when you're just starting out.
With so many different types of workouts on the market, it can be overwhelming. However, there are so many workouts that don't include jumping and still provide awesome results. intensity can be ramped up in more than one way. Start small, work at it, and improve your basic strength. I promise you can see plenty of results 😉
Train safe mamas.