Jumping During Pregnancy

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture

QUESTION

Dear Fitness Expert,
My doctor's office has given me the go-ahead to continue exercising and teaching fitness classes for as long as I continue to feel good. I am currently 8 weeks pregnant.

2 of the classes I teach are boot camp classes which involve jumping rope, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, push ups, and plyometric/explosive drills such as squat jumps. Can I continue to jump while pregnant, as long as I don't have any balance or dizziness issues? Or should I avoid jumping?

ANSWER

Hi, You sound like a girl after my own heart. When I became pregnant -- while training for the US Bobsled team -- the pre-requisites for making the team were performing plyometric skills, lots of jumping, explosive starts, squats and lunges. I couldn't find anything that told me I could continue these exercises while pregnant. That was when I hooked up with Dr. James Clapp, III, MD. He is a renown researchers in Obstetrics and pregnant athletes. I began training with his team, hooked up to EKG leads, oxygen mask, heart monitor, fetal heart monitor and yes, even a rectal thermometer. The idea was to record, regulate and evaluate every aspect of training and how my body (and baby) reacted.I was part of a group that lead Clapp/team to determine that squats, lunges and running are safe throughout the pregnancy. There are four factors that must be considered. You've answered one already.

  1. Physician approval. Be sure that your doctor understands EVERYTHING you do. Many times we forget to share certain aspects of a training regimen that are vital. No matter how small the detail.
  2. Stay hydrated. Because you are a fitness instructor, I am sure you know all about this and drink lots of water. I'll nag anyway... water, water, water. Recently, I was part of a study that found that of the 450 women who said they drank more than a gallon of water a day, only 10% did. We think we drink more water than we do. Keep and food, fitness and water journal to be sure you are properly hydrated. Remember that proper hydration will help your joints which in turn will help your workouts and prevent injury.
  3. The rectal thermometer is very important. I know this sounds disgusting but it is the one sure way to guarantee you do not overheat. Now, you are more restricted because you teach class and do not have the luxury of slipping out the door to the bathroom. I suggest you use the rectal thermometer 3 or 4 times directly after class to gauge how hot you get in class.

    Why the rectal? Your baby is one degree Celsius hotter than you and has no way to sweat. You do not want to let yourself get hotter than 101 degree F. Many times people have asked, "Yes, but can't you just tell if your really hot?" No. There are outside circumstances that hike your inner temp. such as weather, things that you have eaten, the body heat generated in the class or the actual workout. Your inner core temperature can spike suddenly. For you personally, by checking yourself at the end of a few classes, you can begin to get a feel for how you felt that day and what your temperature was. You will learn when to back off a bit and 'instruct' rather than participate. (I will be more than happy to explain this further if you need more information)

  4. Finally, listen to your body. As you begin to get bigger (and heavier) your joints will shift, preparing for child birth. Years ago, doctors would advise their patients against jumping because the thinking was shifting joints can only lead to injury if one is jumping/bounding. Today, we know that women who have been working out prior to pregnancy and have strong muscles easily handle this.

    Still, it is important to listen to your body. When the jumping/bounding exercises feel awkward or are simply too much work, instruct. You're the teacher, you can do that! I taught kickboxing into my eighth month of pregnancy with baby #3. While I continued the kicking, punching, squats and lunges, I grounded myself -- no bounding or jumping. It wasn't that I couldn't do it... I just didn't want to because it did not feel good.

Good luck, have fun, listen to your body, take your temperature, drink water and keep us posted!

-- Alex