Return to Running After Pregnancy

return to running after pregnancy guideWhen can I return to running after pregnancy?  As a keen runner and mum of two, this is information I wished I could have had.  I want to know facts when deciding what is best for my body….there is too much “fake news” floating around there.  Not running, when it is integral to my life, is not something I am willing to give up unless there is extremely good reason….and even then I have to have a goal for when I can get back, and a program starting now that I can work on to get there!

Running is not just important for your physical health, it is also important for your mental health…..and having just had a child you really need to look after both of these! Running is also cheap, its easy and you can fit it into any timeslot…..and do all of this with your child.  So this makes it a great choice of exercise at a tricky time in life.

But we need to consider return to running after pregnancy just as you would returning after an injury.  Things take time to heal and recover and to do too much too soon just ain’t good!

Lets get a few straight facts here:

  • 15-30% of first time mums will experience urinary incontinence (Milsomet al.2014)
  • 1 in 5 first time mums complain of faecal incontinence at 1 year postnatal, especially if they demonstrated symptoms during pregnancy (Johannessen et al. 2014).
  • At 3-6 months postnatal up to 56% of new mothers demonstrate grade 2 or more pelvic organ prolapse (Bø  et al. 2017). This means that one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel or uterus) have descended downwards into the vagina to at least the vaginal opening.

In summary, having a baby puts a lot of changed forces through the pelvis, and your pelvis needs time to recover from this.  And you need to ensure this has happened if you plan to return to running post pregnancy.

Screening – so what do you need to return successfully?

  • You must have a pelvic floor assessment from a pelvic health physio – they will guide you as to when and if you can start loading – at Physiologix we can recommend some awesome people to see.
  • At Physiologix, your physio will then start to get you ready in collaboration with your pelvic health physio.
    • Do you have any musculoskeletal pain that needs to be addressed before you can restart exercise?
    • Do you have any weakness for whatever reason that you will need specific exercises for that will then help you to run?
    • Did you have abdominal separation? Careful restrengthening of the core, pelvis and trunk needs to take this into account
    • Are you breast feeding? Do you have good support to run and avoid back injury?
    • Whats your running technique like? Does this need to be addressed? Are you running with a pram? What does this mean?

Then what?

Together with your Pelvic Health Physio, at Physiologix we will progress you through a return to running after pregnancy program with careful monitoring throughout. This can be based around a home program, a gym program, a pilates program or all of the above – in short, we will make what we need to happen around whatever works for you.

Education is everything – it not all just all about the physical. A lot of what your support professionals will do is around education, teaching you what to feel and look for, helping you understand the changes to your body, helping guide you through strategies as you deal with coping with carrying, lifting, and nursing a child. Pacing and recovery are huge, when to exercise, when to not, considerations around nursing and breast feeding etc.

Do this right and your body will be thankful forever more!

Again on a personal and professional note, these are a couple of great references to read for a bit more information. They have helped me and I hope they help you. The first is an easy read and the second a bit more in depth.  Looking forward to helping you get back on track!