For the sake of absolute clarification, the following article refers only to ‘fitness boxing’ on pads – full contact boxing and other contact sports are NOT recommended in pregnancy and should be returned to slowly with full medical clearance after giving birth.
Those that know the benefits of boxing, know. Nothing quite beats the feeling of landing the perfect combo or getting the heart rate up with a bit of bish, bash, bosh on the pads!
But… should we continue to use boxing as a cardio, conditioning, stress relieving and co-ordination work-out into pregnancy and beyond?
As with the vast majority of ‘is it safe in pregnancy?’ and ‘how long do I have to wait after giving birth?’ type questions, unfortunately there is no black and white answer.
All pre and post-natal exercise should be prescribed on a case-by-case basis ideally with a Doctor or a Women’s Health Physio clearance.
The long answer to the boxing question, firstly depends on the individual’s previous experience and levels of exercise and any current pregnancy issues. If you have never exercised before or have any contraindications to exercise (such as high blood pressure, Placentia Previa, bleeding or severe anaemia), then pregnancy is not the time to take up any high intensity exercise such as boxing.
If you have maintained a reasonable level of fitness before and throughout your pregnancy and have no current issues or pain, then it is possible to modify fitness boxing so that it can be incorporated as a (really, really enjoyable and empowering) low impact form of cardio exercise that is safe for both Mum and baby.
Pre-natal boxing considerations and modifications include:
- Reduce intensity (to within the ‘fairly light’ to ‘somewhat hard’ range) to keep heart rate low. Being able to maintain a conversation throughout the work-out is a good rule of thumb for this level of exertion.
- Reduce the power of the punches (this should be happening anyway if you are adhering to the first point!) to minimise the ‘jolt’ and any corresponding impact on your pelvic floor.
- Adjust the usual boxing split stance to bring your feet parallel into a stable standing position. This is particularly important if there is any pelvis issues or pain present that could be exacerbated by any single leg work or uneven positions.
- Remove any fast-twisting movements in the second and third trimester (for example if throwing a hook correctly the whole body will twist, adapt the torso movement when pregnant).
- Check posture (remove any extreme forward lean that may apply extra pressure on the tummy and lower back) and do not hold the breath as this will increase intra-abdominal pressure as well as pressure on the pelvic floor.
- Ensure contact with the pads is made with a neutral wrist position to avoid any injury – especially as strains and sprains are more likely due to the increased levels of Relaxin present.
- Shadow boxing is a great alternative if there is a need to remove impact totally or wrist issues prevent punching and pad holding.
Boxing after giving birth – Postnatally, the same applies.
Boxing would be avoided or heavily modified if any of the following apply:
- Severe abdominal separation
- Pelvic floor weakness or prolapse
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Carpal Tunnel / De Quervain’s or other wrist pain
However, for the client that has recovered sufficiently to begin easing into higher intensity exercise, has rebuilt core and pelvic floor strength and is ready to feel those endorphins, let the bish, bash, bosh commence!
It does wonders for baby brain too, almost forgot that bit #babybrain!