Now that we are all taking to more home workouts because of social distancing, you might notice that you are jumping more. Jumping rope, burpees, jumping jacks, box jumps, broad jumps etc tend to be go-to exercises for home programs because they require little to no equipment and they will get your heart rate jacked up! But what you also might notice more is leaking of urine, pressure/heaviness or pain during these movements.
All of these symptoms are signals that something needs to change-- we don’t need to keep pushing through the signals our body is giving us. However, rather than just completely skipping the jumping movements, there are some variables we can work to change first. If tweaking these variables helps, then keep on rocking. If not, then think about ways to modify the movement but still feel that good work was done.
The “core” or midline is often described as a canister or balloon, in which we either decrease or increase the pressure with different strategies. When leaking or pressure are a reported symptom, we first want to try different ways to decrease the pressure in our “balloon” and therefore decrease the pressure that our pelvic floor has to support.
Holding your breath during a movement is not bad. It’s a fine strategy for certain times- think helping your partner lift the couch or picking up a heavy weight. But if your go-to strategy for “bracing” while jumping is to hold your breath, we want you to also practice and master jumping while breathing. Not to mention, you will eventually be super gassed while holding your breath!
A strategy that I find works for many women in a movement like double unders (jump roping) or box jumps, is letting out a small puff of air as their feet land. Picture this as letting off a bit of the air in our balloon so there is less pressure being pushed downward. Make sure it’s a small puff do you don’t hyperventilate yourself!
Ground Reaction Force
"Ground reaction force, or GFR, is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. When a person is standing still, the GRF corresponds with the person's weight. When the body is moving, the GRF increases due to acceleration forces."
If I jump and land as hard as I can with my feet, you will hear a loud smack and the GRF sent back to me will be many times my body weight. If I jump and land quietly, aka softly, then the GFR is still more than when I was standing still but LESS than the forceful jump. Makes sense right?
If you leak each time you land, try to land softer. Absorb the impact by bending your knees a bit more. Avoid letting your feet smack down. This might be ALL it takes for you to not have symptoms… because physics!
Sometimes this one can be hard to change if you do not have the skill (double unders, box jumps) mastered. In that case, keep reps lower and work FORM, my friend.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but what if being less rigid or “engaged” made your symptoms go away? Think again about the balloon. I have the balloon at rest, then I get ready to jump and squeeze it tightly. The increased pressure from squeezing makes the balloon bulge in a few different directions. THEN I jump and add that GFR to it. That’s when symptoms can happen.
I like to use the analogy of catching a raw egg. If I were to toss one to you (and you knew it was raw) you would gently cup your hands and absorb the impact to keep it from bursting. The same concept applies to your pelvic floor. It needs to be “aware” and gently engaged to catch the egg (aka pressure). However, we don’t want it maximally flexed and fully rigid. This would equate to catching the raw egg with flat, rigid hands. It would not end well!
So next time you jump, try not to squeeze your legs together and hold your belly in. Actually, don’t focus on engaging anything at all. It turns out, our body does this FOR us. We just like to over-cue it! Sidenote: This may be altered with certain levels of pelvic floor weakness and when early postpartum. Then we bring in pelvic floor strengthening and control!
As we all work from home, it is likely that you will see more jumping variations in your workouts. These may be leading to more symptoms like leaking, vaginal heaviness, pressure or pain.
These are not symptoms to ignore or “work through”.
Three options for decreasing symptoms: breathe differently, land softly, and decrease the amount of tension you are creating by specifically engaging certain muscle groups.
Still not sure what to do? Send an email to info@SpectrumPerformance.fit and let’s schedule a virtual session to talk about your specific goals and questions!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jackie, DPT