Box Jumps: How To

Box jumps build explosive power, and are a hip extension exercise. If box jumps don't:

a) translate to your sport of choice, or

b) aren't something you enjoy - then really, why ARE you doing them?

"Because they're fun!"

"Because my sport requires explosive power!". Great answers!

"My gym programs them, but they kill my knees." Probably time to find a substitution. 

Here are five ways to build up to box jumps, as well as two common faults with some ideas on how to work on correcting them. Check this post here for all six accompanying videos.

  1. Jump on the spot: Get used to launching off of two feet and landing on two feet. Practice using your hip (glute) power to launch you straight up. Not sure what to do with your arms? Think of them leading you where you want to go, down as you load your glutes, and UP as you jump

  2. Kettlebell swings: KBS are great for training hip extension and power. I also like KBS as a postpartum progression to train your breath and pelvic floor for more dynamic movements PRIOR to including impact.

    Let's pause and talk breathing for a second: Everyone will be different, but my go-to breathing technique for box jumps is exhaling BEFORE my feet launch off the ground. If I try exhaling when I'm in the air, I have a tendency to leak with multiple reps. Whatever works for you just remember to BREATH. Don't hold your breath. I promise, that little bit of extra air you're holding in your lungs isn't really having the hot air balloon effect you're hoping for to get you higher. I would not have someone start with ANY jumping movements until a solid strength base is built up and breathing techniques have been incorporated into non-impact dynamic movements.

  3. Low box: I wouldn't recommend my unstable IKEA stool, but if you're at a gym that has the stackable 6" and 12" mats, start with these. The foam will help ease your nerves, and you'll be able to master solid reps at lower heights first.

  4. Box jump: Look forward to go forward (skiing between trees? Same idea.) Land with both feet FULLY on the box, knees slightly bent. Step down to save your achilles.

  5. Common fault - knees caving in: I couldn't bring myself to actually land with my knees caved, but you get the idea - check your landing form. If needed, lower the box height, do some banded squats to work on form before adding complexity.

  6. Common fault - no hip extension: If you're landing in such a deep squat are you really even jumping or just tucking your feet under you to land on the box? Go back to #1 and #2 above, or do some banded goodmornings, deadlifts, hip thrusts - anything to work on fully extending your hips - squeeze your bum!

Questions on the breathing and how to get back to impact activity? I am launching a Return To Running online program that will start with foundations, and build you back up to launching - whether onto a box or down the running trails. Sign up for more info via rawfitnessyyc.com/run

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Let's Talk Peeing During Exercise

If the thought of skipping makes you worry about peeing your pants, you're not alone. Perhaps you avoid skipping - whether double-unders or singles, box jumps, going on the trampoline with your kids, or doing any sort of plyometric work, all out of fear of leaking. Maybe it's as simple as a cough or sneeze that causes an unwanted trickle. Or maybe it takes nothing at all.

"Okay, yup, been there. I only wear black pants on days with jumping. Where are you going with this?"

Good news - it doesn't need to stay like this for you forever. While very common, it's not normal for the human body to function this way. Common does not equal normal.

I first encountered stress urinary incontinence in University as a varsity athlete on the track & field team. For me, the "stress" part that caused it was the plyometric component of our training, and often during the bounding exercises I would get a little of that unwanted trickle. I assumed it was normal, and was too embarrassed to ask my coach.

Fast forward years later when I discovered Crossfit, and amoung fellow female class members we'd ask each other, "what's your number?" and know exactly what the other was talking about -  how many double-unders can you hit before you pee a little? The fact it's so common really does make you start to think it's normal, and that it just comes with the territory of being a female athlete.

Keep in mind - both the track bounding and the Crossfit double-under issues happened years before I ever got pregnant. I didn't really think it was normal before having kids, and I had always heard "it's a mom thing", so I have to admit I was a little worried about what would happen to me once I actually did have kids, if I was already experiencing it pre-babies. This is what led me to Heather at Lakeview Physiotherapy while pregnant. I wanted to learn more about pelvic health, and what I could specifically do for my own health.

For moms, there's definitely the "it comes with being a mom" reasoning, which is sad, because women are apparently walking around assuming this is normal, likely going to great lengths to avoid embarrassing moments, or missing out on potential fun social and energizing activities. Even seemingly innocent exercise like spin class too soon after having a baby can be too much, because let me tell you, there is no way doing anything with quick feet out of the saddle post-baby is an option until  strengthening of the pelvic floor has happened. When I took a spin class at about 2 months postpartum I let the instructor know that I'd be sitting during some songs because of where I was at with my healing process post-baby, and she openly told me she completely peed herself her first class back teaching after becoming a mom.

What I want female athletes and moms (either pregnant or postpartum) to know is this: leaking is not a sign of normal pelvic floor functioning, and there is specific treatment to help no matter if it's  been an issue for you for one week or a decade.

The best kept secret around that particularly every athlete and mom needs in their life is the pelvic health physiotherapist.

If you're wondering a) what & where your pelvic floor is and b) "there's physio for that?" - then stick around, you're in the right place. I'll dive into "what & where" your pelvic floor is another day, but for today, know that there are experts who can help if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms from the list below, taken directly from the Lakeview Physiotherapy website. And fellas, this isn't just for the ladies! Men can experience any of these symptoms as well, aside from prenatal and postpartum of course:

  • "Urinary problems such as incontinence (leaking), frequent peeing, urgency
  • Bowel problems such as incontinence (leaking) and constipation
  • Pelvic pain - inside and outside the pelvis
  • Painful or difficult intercourse
  • Prenatal and Postpartum
  • Before and after pelvic surgery."

If there is one thing I have changed in my life over the past few years, that's gotten me much more satisfactory results across the board, it's this: Go to the experts for whatever it is you are seeking.

Want a cupcake? Go to the bakery that sells cupcakes and maybe one or two other products - their cupcakes will far surpass a grocery store that caters to all food needs.

Have any sort of issues going on in and around your pelvis? Go to the pelvic health physio - this is their area of expertise! When asked about when woman should seek help, Heather's response was:

"When a woman should see a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist really depends on the client. If a woman feels that Pelvic Health Physio could be helpful for her, the Physiotherapist can do an assessment and develop a treatment plan. If a woman is uncertain, particularly during pregnancy, she could ask her physician or midwife if Pelvic Physiotherapy would be appropriate at that time." - Heather Enns, Lakeview Physiotherapy and Acupuncture

If any of the above sounds like you, I encourage you to book in with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. Heads up there will likely be an internal exam, however a consent form must be signed first so you are definitely able to skip the internal exam if you aren't comfortable with this. But keep in mind the information you can receive from an internal exam will be very beneficial to your treatment. The internal exam is a small portion of the appointments I have, with the majority of the time being spent on any one of the following: looking at my alignment, testing imbalances in muscle strength from side to side, treating imbalances (massage/release/dry needling), and working on breathing.

My goals are simple:

  • To provide resources to athletes of all levels, so we can wear grey pants again on workout days.

  • To make sneezing & coughing comfortable again for the female (and male) population.

  • To educate pregnant and postpartum moms on their bodies, the changes they will go through, and how to minimize damage done to allow for faster and better recovery.

  • To spread this info around like wildfire, so that women (and men) can get back to the things they love without pain, discomfort, or embarrassment.

11-14-17 Edit: I am so excited to announce this article was picked up by Impact Magazine, and am incredibly grateful that it has been featured in the November/December 2017 edition. To check out the digital version click here.

That feeling when "trusting the process" delivers your reward

You know when you make a decision and at the time it really sucks because it means giving up something you really want right that moment (instant gratification) in exchange for something way down the road, and even though you know the trade off will greatly trump all those little "need right now" moments it's still so hard to trust the process at the time? And every time you have to pass on that want, over and over, you question, "is it worth it?".

But then the day comes where your patience and months (perhaps years) of tough decision making rewards you. This applies to so many things in life. Today I got one of those long-awaited rewards after months of having to trust the process.

I am so excited that 8 months of trusting the process has led me to this moment. Eight months ago I knew I needed to change my mindset on workouts, based on my knowledge of pelvic floor health and diastasis recti. I was doing Crossfit 5x/week, and am, as my husband describes me "insanely competitive". The competitive streak is directed against myself - I'm not trying to beat anyone else in the gym, just myself, always wanting to learn new skills or improve my previous weights or sets. While the gym is a great place to unleash this, it is not a good combo when pregnant and long term health and fitness well into my senior years is the goal.

So I held back. I changed gyms. My pregnancy workouts felt more like my old warm ups did, but I trusted the process. Mentally it sucked a lot of days, trying to match logical brain to emotion-driven brain.

I cried numerous times. I felt like I'd lost a piece of my identity. I've identified as an athlete for years, and as a trainer since changing careers a few years ago. And now I hadn't run in months. Hadn't touched a barbell in as many. My workouts involved lots of seated isolated muscle exercises. I missed my old coaches, and the noon crew that pushed me (and heckled me) and provided me a space to mentally reset each day as well as provided a physical outlet.

I had melt downs when I wondered if I'd ever be able to do what I could pre-pregnancy again. But again, I committed to trusting the process. Some days I hated the process. I had to remind myself:  isn't being able to do 70% of what I could pre-pregnancy for the rest of my life way better than being able to do 100% of what I could pre-pregnancy but only for 2-5 years because of the damage and beating I'd do to myself by pushing for that extra 30%, just to "prove that I could"?

The smile on my face today is after a visit to my pelvic floor physio, where I received that long term reward of being smart these past 8 months instead of just going for it because I could day after day at the gym. I don't have any pelvic organ prolapse and my ab separation is in a good place for only 6 weeks postpartum and the tone feels like it should at this point. This might sound tiny to you, but the alternatives I hear way too many women talking about post partum because they just didn't know how to care for their pregnant and/or postpartum bodies makes me incredibly happy to be where I am right now.

This is just the first of a mini-series of blogs I'll be releasing, so be sure to check back if any of the below apply to you:

  • You like nerding out about body stuff.
  • You're an athlete who "leaks" (regardless of if you've had kids or not) - this was me in University when doing large amounts of bounding and plyometric workouts as a middle-distance sprinter. I just didn't know better.
  • You're currently pregnant.
  • You plan on being pregnant at any point in your life.
  • You've had kids.
  • You have someone in your life who fits the above and you want to help educate them about how to better care for their body.

Stay tuned:)