I’m a huge advocate of exercise modification to protect a weakened pelvic floor. For some unknown reason, most of the postnatal stroller classes I attended always had us warm-up with jumping jacks. Were the instructors trying to make moms pee themselves? Even if you don’t suffer from pelvic floor disorder, straight leg landing is hard on the pelvic floor. Luckily, the modifications are simple.
Note: I’m not suggesting every mom has to indefinitely modify jumping jacks. If you have prolapse, then, yes, you’ll probably modify forever. But if your pelvic floor is simply weak or uncoordinated, when it’s strong enough to handle the load of a traditional jumping jack, feel free to become human scissors once again.
In the meantime, here are my two favorite modifications, one extremely low impact, and the other more challenging.
1. Low Impact Jumping Jack: Instead of jumping both legs out as you raise your arms, step one leg out, return, then step the other leg out. Go as fast as you can.
2. Bent Leg and Arm Jack: Begin in a ski squat position with your knees together and your elbows almost touching, your forearms pointed upward, and your hands in a fist. The hands don’t need to be fisted, but you look more “fierce” if they are. Breathe out. Lift the pelvic floor and jump the legs to a sumo squat. You soften the landing by keeping the knees bent. Your arms, still bent, open to the side. On the next exhale, jump back to your starting position.
If your pelvic floor is really weak, you’ll want to keep the sumo squat fairly narrow. You can also pause in between each jump to consciously contract the pelvic floor. In the video, Version A includes the pause and Version B is a faster, more challenging version.
Just like the traditional jumping jack, these modifications work your entire body, but unlike the straight legged version, they avoid the oh so embarrassing Oh my God I just peed myself moment.