Congratulations on your new baby! Now it’s time to get out there and lose the “baby weight”…right?
Not so fast, mama. It can be tempting to jump right back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine. Your body might even be feeling good enough after only a few postpartum weeks to consider going out for a run. A few miles, what can it hurt? Or perhaps you’ve just seen your OB for your 6-week postpartum visit and got the “OK” to resume normal activity. No restrictions! So, is it time to lace up those running shoes?
When can I return to running after having a baby?
The short answer is: It depends. Currently, there is insufficient research to support more specific guidelines for postpartum running. Furthermore, every body is different. Each woman has a different pregnancy and childbirth experience. Our bodies heal at different rates. Your strength and fitness level before and during pregnancy is a factor as well.
What factors should I consider before I return to running?
- Are your pelvic floor muscles adequately healed and strong enough to withstand the added strain of running?
- Are your abdominal muscles strong enough to support you properly during exertion? Do you have any separation of the abdominal muscles, known as diastasis recti abdominus?
- Are the muscles in your hips and pelvis strong enough to provide the necessary stability that is required for running?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions or are simply unsure, it might be time to consult a physical therapist!
At only 6-weeks postpartum, our bodies may not be adequately healed from pregnancy and childbirth to resume running.
There‘s a lot of “pre-running” work that should be completed to prepare the body to return to running and ensure that we have sufficient deep core strength. Essentially, we must work on strengthening from the “inside” before we begin to resume higher demand tasks such as running. Once the foundational work has been completed, a gradual return-to-run program will need to be completed to avoid risk of injury.
What are the risks of not adequately healing and strengthening prior to resuming running?
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Diastasis recti abdominis
- Pelvic pain
Sorry fellow running enthusiast mamas, it may take longer to return to running after pregnancy than you were anticipating. The good news: if you take the time to properly heal your body by strengthening your deep core muscles and preparing for a safe return to running, you may find yourself reaching new PRs! Perhaps you will even have a newfound appreciation for running and the amazing things your body can do. In the meantime, soak in the new baby snuggles, sleep whenever you possibly can, and allow your body adequate recovery!