I love to perform jumping jacks as either a warm up or part of a cardio session.
However, I know I’m not alone when I say that jumping jacks often hurt my stomach.
Here’s the reasons why this occurs and what you can do about it.
Jumping jacks require your core to stabilise in order to support your spine. Therefore, you are actually getting a good core workout too. This is especially noticeable if you are new to jumping jacks or exercise in general. Stomach pain can also be caused by cramps or a stitch, so ensure you leave plenty of time before your workout after eating or drinking.
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Jumping Jacks Require Core Stabilization
Firstly, before I go any further, if you are feeling severe stomach pain from jumping jacks then I suggest you visit your Doctor.
Giving medical advice is beyond the realms of my experience, but serious pain should never be ignored, so it’s best to take medical advice.
However, if you’re talking about general soreness I can definitely help.
The main reason that you’ll feel your stomach when performing jumping jacks is due to core stabilization.
In fact, this is actually true of any jumping exercise, and I have previously spoken about getting sore abs from jumping rope.
What is basically happening here is that your core needs to contract and stabilize in order to support your spine.
And this is especially true of your abs.
In fact, think back, has there ever been a time that you’ve jumped onto or off something and immediately felt it in your lower back?
I guess this most commonly happens when you jump off an object to the floor and you end up jarring your back.
So, it’s actually a completely natural reaction for your core to jump into action (no pun intended) whenever you perform any type of jumping movement.
Furthermore, you’ll typically perform jumping jacks for a high volume of reps or a certain amount of time.
Essentially, your core muscles are having to contract and stabilize your lower back with each and every jump.
So, doing a significant number of jumping jacks could almost feel as though you’ve performed a high-intense ab workout.
That being said, if your stomach hurts literally every single time you perform jumping jacks this could point to a potential weakness of the core muscles.
Are You New to Jumping Jacks (or Exercise in General)?
Still sticking with the subject of core stabilization, your stomach pain could be caused simply because you’re very new to jumping jacks or exercise in general.
Essentially, you have never worked your core muscles like this before, so it’s likely that you are experiencing DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).
DOMS are part and parcel of exercising, although this is especially true if an exercise is new to you.
Then again, perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve performed a certain exercise, such as jumping jacks, and this is the source of your soreness.
I guess we all most commonly associate DOMS with lifting weights.
Basically, your muscles aren’t used to the stress being applied to them and this manifests itself as pain, typically 24-48 hours after your workout.
That being said, it is perfectly natural to experience DOMS from doing bodyweight exercises, as you’re still doing something that your body isn’t used to.
This being the case you’ll notice that the pain subsides the more often you perform jumping jacks.
Your body will eventually adapt to the various muscle activations you put it through.
This is also why it makes sense to “progressively overload” when you exercise.
This is just another way of saying that you’re going to make a certain exercise harder.
Once your body adapts to a movement you won’t receive the full benefits that you initially did.
DOMS aren’t something for you to worry about, and as I say, your body will eventually get used to this.
How Close to Exercise Did You Eat or Drink?
The final thing to consider is when you ate or drank prior to exercise.
Simply put, if you’ve consumed food or a lot of liquids prior to exercise then it’s likely that you’ll get stomach cramps or even a dreaded stitch.
Realistically, you have to allow your body to digest food before you exercise, although the time will differ depending on how much you have eaten or drank.
If you’ve had a small meal, even just a light snack, I would still suggest that you wait for 30 minutes before performing jumping jacks.
And for a larger meal you should generally wait for at least 1-2 hours before exercising.
That being said, getting a stitch is quite common when doing jumping jacks, even if you haven’t eaten beforehand or have waited for sufficient time after a meal.
The jumping motion can move organs that are connected by ligaments to your diaphragm.
And this can put a strain on these ligaments, thus leading to stomach pain or a stitch.
I will say that this is more likely to happen, once more, the newer you are to performing jumping jacks.
But again, your body will eventually acclimatise to this.
Key Learning Points
- Jumping jacks require your core to stabilize in order to protect your spine.
- Performing a significant number of jumping jacks can often feel like an intense ab workout.
- Weak core muscles can cause stomach pain due to the stabilization required.
- If you’re new to jumping jacks or exercise you may be experiencing DOMS.
- You should allow enough time between eating and drinking before performing exercise, otherwise you’re likely to experience stomach cramps or a stitch.
Here’s yet another common issue, namely why your calves hurt when performing jumping jacks.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.