Maternity Murph

May 25, 2018

 

 

The #HeroWOD #Murph is happening this weekend in #CrossFit gyms around the United States. It is a brutal, take you to the end of yourself, high-volume work out. It is a WOD when you need the support of your local CrossFit community to carry you through. It is a workout to honor our fallen heroes, specifically Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy.

 

The WOD as prescribed is:

1-mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 air squats

1-mile run

(with a 20# weighted vest)

 

As a #pregnant or recently #postpartum mom, you are probably wondering how you can participate in this annual event in a way that is safe and appropriate for your body. 

 

Our gym has five babies due just in June and July, including my own! Not to mention a few that have recently been born or are coming this fall! So I thought it would be appropriate to share with you considerations for Murph during pregnancy and postpartum, aka: #maternityMurph.

 

That being said, I can’t just give you one blanket statement variation that will work for all pregnant or recently postpartum moms. Every pregnancy is different, every body is different, every experience level, and every recovery is different. But I will give you a few quick things to consider about how you move during pregnancy or postpartum and some ideas of how you could make Murph work for your situation. There are many ways for a pregnant or recently postpartum mom to join in, and even if she chooses sitting on the sidelines, she can still enjoy the community environment.

 

 

THE STRATEGY:

The most important thing is not WHAT do you, but HOW you do it. Here is a brief summary of the strategy I teach (and will be referencing) for pregnancy and postpartum exercise. If this is unfamiliar to you, I recommend you research "Piston Science" by Julie Wiebe, PT.

 

There are have some things TO DO:

1) BREATHE! This might sound too simple, or like something you automatically do. But most of the time we don't capitalize on the power of our breath, and pregnancy/postpartum is especially important to use our breath to create core stability and connection.

  • Exhale on exertion!! Use the exhale of your breath to also engage your entire core (lift up pelvic floor and transverse abdominous--by pulling belly button up) as you exhale through your mouth. This should happen during the exertion phase of EVERY REP. Use the inhale to fill your belly, lower ribs & diaphragm with air and to relax your core. (This is a nutshell of the "Piston Science.")

  • Use this pace (of "exhale on exertion" during EVERY rep) to slow you down and keep your intensity at a level you could hold a conversation.​

 

2) MONITOR FOR SYMPTOMS. There are some major contraindications to exercise during pregnancy/postpartum, such as dizziness, bleeding/discharge, etc, that aren't usually ignored. But you also need to pay attention to:

  • any pelvic, vaginal or abdominal pressure, pulling, heaviness, pain, or discomfort

  • bulging of the abdomen (coning/football shape protrusion)

  • leaking urine

  • unusual joint pain or discomfort (especially hips, knees, pelvis)

  • "something doesn't feel right."

Any of these symptoms are your body's way of sending you a warning that the exercise or intensity is too much for the phase you are in. If you experience symptoms: stop and dial in your strategy or modify the movement until you are symptom free.


NOTE: If you consistently experience symptoms during exercise, please see a pelvic floor physical therapist!

 

 

And some things NOT TO DO:

1) Don't push through! If you experience symptoms, your exercise and strategy need to be adapted to better support your body's current phase. Your intensity is not the goal right now, keeping your body healthy and strong IS. Pregnancy and postpartum is NOT the time to PROVE what your body can do.

 

2) Don't hold your breath or "bear down" through your pelvic floor. This increases pressure on an already compromised body system.

 

 

THE WOD:

The intensity or volume of this WOD makes it extra challenging and fatiguing, which will increase the risk of dysfunction in a pregnant or postpartum athlete. In most cases it would be best to partition the WOD into rounds, even if you also reduce the overall volume of reps. This will allow the mom to have a little less muscle fatigue, increased recovery time, and therefore move with more intention.

 

 

 

1) THE RUN. Running is high-risk because of the increased pressure and load on the pelvic floor, pelvis, and hips. Run/walk intervals can be more appropriate, or substituting another form of cardiovascular exercise. You may even want go by a time limit instead of a distance, so there is not pressure to perform at a specific intensity. If at any point during your run you experience leaking urine, pelvic pain, heaviness, bulging or discomfort, stop or switch to a movement that is symptom free.

 

More specifically:

  • >6 months Postpartum: If running has been reintroduced, meaning you have been testing and training your running foundation, then you can run (or run/walk) a distance that your body is ready for as long as you don't experience symptoms.

  • 3rd trimester or <6 months postpartum: For most moms during these phases, intensity and volume is not the goal at this point, especially with something has high impact as running. Gentle, intentional, and symptom free movement is critical. I would strongly recommend walking, rowing or biking for a time limit within a capacity that doesn't leave you over-extended, such as 4-6 minutes, and make sure you don't experience symptoms.

  • 1st & 2nd trimester pregnancy: Run, run/walk or swap the run for another cardiovascular exercise such as rowing or biking, as long as you are symptom free. Reduce the overall time/distance as needed.

 

2) 100 PULL-UPS: The volume of these next 3 elements increases the risk for most pregnant or postpartum moms. This is where partitioning these into rounds can help maintain movement integrity even if overall rep volume is also reduced. Pull-ups (especially kipping) are very high risk on an already compromised core. Even as early as the first trimester, the core is going through so much change that I would not recommend most athletes to perform this volume of kipping pull-ups in any stage of pregnancy or until they have re-trained postpartum. Use the breath and core connection on each rep.

 

PULL-UP MODIFICATIONS: strict pull-ups (banded or toe-assisted), ring-rows, inverted rows, banded pull-downs, or strict presses. However the "pull-ups" are performed, watch for coning/bulging/abdominal pulling or leaking urine, and if you experience symptoms, stop or adjust to a symptom free movement.

 

More specifically:

  • 3rd trimester or <6 months postpartum: I strongly recommend to modify the pull-ups, dial in your breath connection, and watch for symptoms! Use reduced and/or partitioned reps to accomplish this.

  • 2nd trimester: Avoid symptoms by dialing in your breath & core connection, choosing a modification, and/or a total rep number that your body is ready for.

  • 1st trimester: Could perform kipping pull-ups if you are able to maintain the strategy and be symptom free, but this movement is higher risk for most moms. Otherwise reduce the volume and/or use a modification.

  • >6 months postpartum: If you have reintroduced pull-ups, trained the kipping movement with the breath and core connection, and are not experiencing symptoms, then perform a number of pull-ups that your body is ready for. Otherwise reduce the volume and/or use a modification.

 

3) 200 PUSH-UPS: Again, the volume here increases the risk for most pregnant or postpartum moms. This is where partitioning these into rounds can help maintain movement integrity even if overall rep volume is also reduced. The prone position of push-ups adds the pull of gravity on an already compromised core. Really dial in your core and breath connection, and be SYMPTOM FREE.

 

PUSH-UP MODIFICATIONS: Knee push-ups or elevated to a box/wall/etc. Watch for coning/bulging/abdominal pulling or pain/heaviness/pressure in your pelvic floor/vagina; and if you experience symptoms stop or adjust to a symptom free movement.

 

More specifically:

  • 3rd trimester or <6 months postpartum: I strongly recommend to modify the push-ups, dial in your breath connection, and watch for symptoms! Use reduced and/or partitioned reps to accomplish this.

  • 2nd trimester: Avoid symptoms by dialing in your breath & core connection, choosing a modification, and/or a total rep number that your body is ready for.

  • 1st trimester: Could perform push-ups if you are able to maintain the strategy and be symptom free. Otherwise reduce the volume and/or use a modification.

  • >6 months postpartum: If you have reintroduced push-ups and are not experiencing symptoms, then perform a number of push-ups that your body is ready for. Otherwise reduce the volume and/or use a modification.

 

4) 300 SQUATS: Squats are relatively low risk but again the volume here is what is higher risk for most pregnant or postpartum moms. This is where partitioning these into rounds can help maintain movement integrity, and the overall rep volume can be reduced if needed. Depending on body comfort and symptom level, the depth (range of motion) may need to be reduced as well. Otherwise most phases of pregnancy or postpartum can use the strategy of breath & connection to perform up to all the reps! If you feel pain/heaviness/bulging in your vagina, or pelvis/hip/knee discomfort, stop and adjust for symptom free movement.

 

SQUAT MODIFICATIONS: reduce the ROM, squat to a box/bench/ball

 

 

 

 

EXAMPLE MURPH VARIATION:

 

5 minute Assault Bike

 

10-15 Rounds

5 banded pull-downs

10 wall push-ups

15 air-squats (within comfortable ROM)

 

3-5 minute Assault Bike

 

  • I am 33 weeks pregnant and "at risk for pre-term labor," so my midwife wants me to be extra gentle with my movement and exercise. 

  • I focus on my breathing and connection: exhale on exertion of every rep! This helps keep my pace steady and my HR even

  • I focus on being symptom free. I can have some coning during different pull-up modifications if I don't dial in the strategy or modify correctly. Occasionally the squats give me tension in my pelvic floor/pelvis, so I often reduce the ROM. 

  • I always give myself the room to adjust if something changes mid-workout with my symptoms

  • I will also make sure I stay hydrated and that my body temperature doesn't get too high (Phoenix summer!!)

This is what could work for ME during my phase of pregnancy. Use the guidelines above to determine what will be best for YOU. There are lots of different ways to break up the reps! You can also just choose to move in a way that you enjoy. Either way you can be with your community and honor our American heroes.

 

These guidelines do not take the place of your providers recommendations and are safe for a normal, healthy pregnancy or recovery.

Most importantly: honor our heroes, have fun, enjoy your loved ones and your fitness community, and remember friends don't let friends pee themselves during a workout.

 

Please don't hesitate to email me with questions or concerns.

 

~ Lauren

CF-L1 Coach at Chuckwalla CrossFit

Pregnancy & Postpartum Core Connections

 

 

 

#CrossFitDuringPregnancy #CrossFitPregnancy #PostpartumCrossFit #CrossFitMom #StrongMom #FitMom #ChuckwallaStrong

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