Dear Fitness Expert,
I do kickboxing and have done so off and on for approximately 9 years. I stopped during my first pregnancy which resulted in a cesarean 4 years ago.
I am now 11 weeks pregnant and continue to kickbox on a one-to-one basis at a lower intensity.
My concern is as I get into my pregnancy and continue to engage in kickboxing how it will impinge on my existing c-section scar and what precautions I would need to take?
Great question! And, you are talking to someone who taught kickboxing throughout her third pregnancy and earned my second black belt -- hormones! What a great thing!
Because you had a c-section, you want to watch irritating the scar tissue. The benefits of kickboxing are plentiful in terms of preparing for labor and delivery. You will have better endurance, stamina, upper and lower body strength to push/grip. During the kickbox pregnancy, however, you want to be sure you don't dehydrate. That's number one.
Because you've kickboxed for so many years, you already know that you will burn more calories in 45 minutes of kickbox than almost any other exercise. This also means your inner core temperature will spike. Please check out our information on inner core temperature and how you can continuously check it throughout your workouts. Remember that your baby has no sweating mechanism and is 1 degree Celsius hotter than your own inner core temperature. This is important information because you need to know that by overheating, you are spiking the baby's temperature. You can continue to train safely and happily -- but watch your temperature.
Having said this, you have a second concern. By working quick twitch fibers -- the rapid succession of kicking -- you are really working lower abdominal muscles. In this case, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If/when you are asked to do higher repetitions of kicks -- anything over 12 -- keep your kicks at the number twelve and lower the kicks slightly. This will help decrease the kind of friction your muscles/scar tissue will incur while working out.
Punch, hook, upper cut, lunge, side-to-side squat your heart out. When it comes to front kicks, hook and round kicks, keep the numbers slightly lower and use this time to really concentrate on form.I always tell my pregnant clients -- don't look at this as a time when you "can't keep up with the class" or "have to slow down." Look at this as a time of real development. Most kickboxers do not get proper technique because the music is jamming and the class is rocking and everyone is moving rapidly and aggressively -- translation: sloppy form. And sloppy form means higher chance of injury, less muscular workout, less chance of learning the higher form of self defense.
Use this as a time to look at your form, you feet, foot placement. For example -- the standard sidekick. In pictures of kickboxers around the nation always shows a woman doing her best "hi-ya!" impression as she does a side kick. Look at her toes. They are almost always pointing up toward the ceiling and her rear end is sticking out as she is bent forward. WRONG!A good, solid sidekick has you standing almost erect, shoulders back, head up and when you kick the foot is parallel to the floor -- toes down and pulled back toward your own body. The idea here is that should you ever have to really kick someone, you are pulling your toes back so that they won't break against the target. If your toes are up toward the ceiling that, my friend, is a front kick.
You get the idea. If your instructor does not teach proper form -- and don't worry -- most do not because they have a background in aerobics, not martial arts, trot on over to your local book store and check out some martial arts -- very basic -- to learn proper form.
Good luck, have fun, be safe and look at the inner core temperature information. Oh, and drink lots of water!
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!