First of all, I love high impact exercise. I am a big fan of running and plyometrics (jumping). A long time ago I used to think that you couldn’t a good workout in if you didn’t go full on high impact.. I know now that high impact just isn’t appropriate for everyone and particularly in pregnancy and in the postnatal period it is sensible to protect your weakened pelvic floor and core by switching to low impact strength work. After years of teaching pregnancy and postnatal exercise classes, it’s become second nature to offer low-impact, safe variations of the “normal” types of exercises we do. I should also add here that if you ever attend an exercise class and the instructor can’t (or even worse won’t) give you a modification to an exercise then please don’t attend that class again! And continue reading to arm yourself with the knowledge to adapt the exercises yourself..
Anyone who has done one of my “low impact” classes knows that they are JUST as challenging, yet much kinder and more appropriate for the body, especially during pregnancy, after having a baby, recovering from injury, or those who just want to avoid jumping/impact in general. Mama on the Move’s strength and fitness online programmes are ALL low impact.
Here are some (video) examples of modifications of your beloved impact exercises without taking down the intensity:
NOTE: Please make sure you get the all clear from your midwife/doctor before commencing on any exercise programme. We would not advise doing the “step out” burpees or frontal plank if you are suffering from diastasis recti or in the 3rd trimester. In addition if you suffer from Pelvic Girdle Pain you may find some of these exercises (even the modified ones) not appropriate so as always listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain/discomfort.
Tips on how to decrease impact and modify exercises:
- Keep at least one foot on the floor. If you want to change a traditional jumping movement, keep one foot on the floor at all times. For example – see our star jump alternatives..
- Step it out…. Break the exercise out into separate segents… See our burpee variation
3) Arms up! By raising your arms above your head, your heart rate will increase. If you’re keeping the moves low-impact, try to think of some ways to add in controlled arm movements to increase your intensity (light weights can also be added..)
4) Instead of jumping, rise up onto your toes. See our squat jump alternative - Come down into a squat and rise up onto your toes (getting calf workout in too), reaching your arms up. Move quickly and your heart rate will soon start pumping!
5) Pulse it out…. Instead of jumping, add a pulse to ramp up the intensity -see our jump lunge variation, you will really feel the burn with small movements but without the impact..
6) Decrease the range of motion.. For example, don’t go so low in the squats/lunges, start with small movements and build up from there.
7) For planks and push ups try using a wall or slight incline (like the back of a sofa) to avoid excessive pressure on your core. If you have no diastasis recti after having your baby then you can start to build up to floor work for side planks and push ups but always start on your knees..