I looooove to hit stuff!! That feeling of pop, pop, pop as you hit the pads is freaken awesome and such a good workout!
I remember vividly when I was first diagnosed with prolapse going through my possible exercise options with my specialist at the time. She was big on prolapse “safe” exercises and boxing was definitely not on the “safe” list.
How was I going to get my pop, pop, pop hit without making my pop or diastasis worse……. surely there had to be a way I could get back to boxing!? I can happily say - yep I am back to boxing BUT there are definitely a few things to consider first.
Things to consider when it comes to boxing and happy bits.
Firstly why can boxing wreak havoc if you have any kind of pelvic dysfunction like prolapse or incontinence, abdominal seperation or a pelvic floor and core that needs a little more love and attention??
It all comes back to that magic word intra abdominal pressure. As I have explained in another post https://www.forwardfit.nz/post/now-that-i-have-your-attention your core muscles are a lot more than just that sexy six pack at the front. Your deep core muscles (the really sexy ones - think responsible for freaken awesome orgasms, keeping your poo, pee and gas where they should be, let alone your organs inside your body etc!) act like a pressure managing cylinder in your trunk (side note I think your core is sooooo much more than that but for simplicity sake sticking to this part of the picture for now). At the top of your cylinder you have your diaphragm, at the bottom of your cylinder you have your pelvic floor, wrapping around your cylinder you have your transversus abdominis and running along the back of your cylinder is your multifidus.
All of these guys work together to manage “load” or intra abdominal pressure through your trunk. Boxing is a serious core workout - as you rotate through your hips and trunk to swing that awesome punch all of these muscles plus the bigger players like your rectus abdominis and internal and external obliques should fire. Exactly what you want them to do.
So why can this be a problem for your pelvic floor or your abdominal separation? Think of that twisting action like wringing out a wet towel. All of the “walls” of the core cylinder “contract” and “squeeze” on the sides of the cylinder. Add on top of that a lot of women’s tendency to hold their breath as they box causing even more pressure from above….
If your pelvic floor (who already has a tough job being the floor of your core cylinder with three holes in it, let alone carrying and birthing children) is not quite up to scratch to manage all this downward pressure things can go a little pear shaped. Think potential downward pressure on your pelvic floor and prolapse, leaking, urgency, back pain, injury - all the not so fun stuff. The same can be said for abdominal separation where you have a vulnerable mid-line down the front of your core.
So how do you get back to boxing without compromising your bits?
I am definitely not one to say things are off the table for good. Way too stubborn for that! Also living proof ;). Boxing may not be included as a prolapse “safe” exercise, but I do believe you can get back to boxing safely if you really want to. It will take work, meaning you need to regress where you need to and meet your amazing body exactly where it is and build from there.
Some ideas to get you started;
Find an awesome pelvic floor physio to learn exactly where your core is at and what you need to do to get your rehab journey started. What is a pelvic floor physio? Read here to find out https://www.forwardfit.nz/post/pelvic-floor-physio-woman-s-health-physio
Learn how to connect with and listen to your bits. This may seem like fluffy advice, but so many of us have a disconnect from our bodies especially out pelvic floor and core. Do you know what it feels like to bear down (not good) compared to engage and lift? Are you aware of what your tummy does when you load through your body? Does it dome, bulge, or draw in? Awareness and connection are such an important first step. How can you train something when you can’t connect with it? Kind of like reasoning with a toddler…. not going to get far.
Learn how to sync your breath and your core. What oh what does breathing have to do with my bits you might say? Soooooooooooo much! Your diaphragm is part of the core cylinder team. As you breath your diaphragm moves (how much depends on your breath - a little more about breathing here https://www.forwardfit.nz/post/breathing). Holding your breath as you punch can create even more downward pressure on your pelvic floor or outward load on your diastasis. Yes you want to be able to load your body both on your inhale and exhale but when you are just starting out think exhale on exertion. Breath out on the hard part, or harder part of the exercise. This takes a little more pressure off your core at the same time the rest of the muscles fire. Think breath out as you smack that pad! Eventually you can also re train your pelvic floor and friends to subtle engage as your breath out. Winning on both fronts!
Progressively strengthen your core (of course some women need to down train first as they have an overactive pelvic floor but that is a whole other post). Start with the basics, learning how to gently engage your core on your out breath and relax on your in breath. Then progressively strengthen your system through manageable overload. This is the bit that is really fun but slightly different for everyone depending on where your body is at, how you load your system and what you want to achieve. Make sure your core work includes loading laterally and through rotation as you guessed it that’s what you do when you box!
Start light. Hit the pads like your favorite great grandparent is holding them. As your strength and technique improve and any symptoms stay away progressively hit harder and harder.
Stay light on your feet. Load through your entire body not just your arms and trunk. Not only do you get more power and efficiency but you also spread some of the load from your core. Think of that wet towel, instead of just twisting in the middle it is twisting the entire length effectively spreading the load all the way from your feet to your hands.
Holding the pads is definitely work too! Yep as your partner slams into the pads a massive amount of load is absorbed through your body (not only your core!). Everything you do when you box should be applied when you lead the dance with the pads.
Listen to your body! Health is not an end destination, it is a journey. Take your time and don’t be afraid to regress when you need to. Your body is freaken amazing and so are you! Learn how to listen to what your body is telling you, some days will suck, some days you will feel like Mahamed Aly. That’s OK!
Please shout out if you have any questions at all or would like more info. I could talk about this stuff for days!
Bring on the happy, symptom free hitting!