When it comes to treating the pelvic floor there are 2 types of female athletes I see.
1) Those who avoid plyo day altogether because they leak and 2) Those who participate in plyo day while experiencing leaking during some or most of the exercises.
Both groups grow increasingly frustrated because they want to advance but feel stuck.
Moving beyond kegels is increasing your body’s tolerance to jumping.
You tried to perform jumping jacks and experiencing leakage, so either you stopped altogether or you modified. Modification is totally fine however, it could also mean that the jumping is either too inconsistent or too little to make a difference.
One thing to remember is the timing of when you go back to jumping after pregnancy. This can be different for each person. Return to running guidelines suggest waiting 12 weeks after birth. So you may want to follow a similar timeline but best to check with your doctor and pelvic floor PT.
If you are reading this and experiencing leaking, but have never have children do not be ashamed. I see women just like you all the time, keep reading.
There is good news, but it takes some work! Advancing in any type of physical performance requires challenging the body. In order for the body to adapt, stress needs to be applied. Stress in this context is in the form of exercise, and it’s extremely beneficial. If you want to run or jump again after baby then gradually loading your body with impact exercises is a great way to advance.
Keep in mind that emotions like fear and anxiety can also keep you stuck here. Letting yourself gradually experience wins is the key to getting past the fear.
Use this graphic as a handy tool to begin to progressivley training your pelvic floor. The steps are for jumping jacks but can also be used for other jumping activities.
If you can’t jump at all without leaking or if you have heaviness or pain, then consider seeing a pelvic floor therapist first to gain insight into a personalized plan for you.
Participating but still leaking group
Can you do some jumping tasks well but the longer they go or harder they get, the worse your symptoms ?
If you find yourself in this group perhaps you started progressing your jumps but did too much too soon. Or perhaps you allowed for too little recovery between.
If you leak after a certain length of time, the above graphic can be helpful for your training.
When you leak once you increase the impact intensity, like jump squat no problem, but box jump no way. Or plank jacks no problem, but jumping jacks, no sir!
Then you likely aren’t dealing with pelvic floor weakness alone. Be grateful, your pelvic floor is working well for certain tasks, so then we need to look at changing your strategy for the higher impact and loads.
Here is a graphic for 3 TIPS to enjoy plyo day and move beyond keels.
- Change your tension: if your strategy is really dialing in your Kegel and abdominal muscles, then learn to let go. Often times the tension one is creating is greater than necessary. Tension to task was first learned through the amazing Antony Lo.
- Change the impact: Impact can be monitored internally and externally.
- External changes are foot wear, flooring, equipment, softer landing, body position, speed ,excursion, time, technique for snatch etc…
- Internal changes – movement of the body and your speed affect impact.
- Change the pressure: there are many breath strategies you can employ. Watch what you do. Do you hold your breath? Let yourself breathe. You can explore different breath rates, volume, and holds.
This is not a full list and there are many other tools to help you improve performance in jumping and running.
If you want 1:1 help with moving beyond kegels, contact me. I work with online and in person clients.