After delivering a baby, you might be wondering when can I start running again? This is a very common question clients ask at the clinic. It’s important to consider a more gradual return to pre-pregnancy fitness levels, especially when it comes to running.
According to a group of physical therapists’ research on returning to running postnatal, they recommend that “returning to running is not advisable prior to 3 months postpartum or beyond this if any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are identified prior to, or after attempting, return to running" (Goom et al 2019).
Why wait 3 months?
For many, this may be hard to follow. However, consider that women require adequate time to heal and regain strength after giving birth. Pregnancy and birth (whether vaginal or cesarean) have a huge impact on the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, often leading to muscle weakness, incoordination, and dysfunction.
During pregnancy and early postpartum, increased body weight has allowed for a forward shift in your center of gravity causing your body awareness in space to be totally thrown off and your body learns to compensate. During this 3 month period, you'll likely notice that doing certain activities you did before now feel completely different. In addition, you may be experiencing pain, discomfort or urinary leakage with those activities.*
Low Impact Exercises Postpartum
During your 3 month healing period, the following can be generally helpful:
- Basic core activation
Prior to getting back to running, your physical therapist will help you achieve adequate strength and control of your pelvic floor and hip musculature and help you manage impact and load on the body.
Once cleared by your physical therapist, a “graded return to running” plan (e.g. starting with short distances to longer distances) can be implemented. During this period, you should continue to monitor for signs and symptoms while building training volume.
At ResilientRx, we offer 1:1 care and work with you to meet your individual needs. If you are experiencing symptoms of urinary incontinence, pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or any other musculoskeletal issues, and want to get back into running again, seek help from us to guide you in the right direction.
Written by Michelle Andoy, PT, DPT
*Remember to reach out to your healthcare providers, including a pelvic health physical therapist, to figure out the root causes and address these symptoms. Although not traditionally routine after every birth, there is always an option to receive a comprehensive pelvic health assessment from a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Sources: Goom, T, Donnelly G, Brockwell E (2019). Returning to running postnatal–guidelines for medical, health and fitness professionals managing this population. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335928424_Returning_to_running_postnatal_-_guidelines_for_medical_health_and_fitness_professionals_managing_this_population