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Return to Running Postpartum

running after birth

If you’re a runner before your baby arrives, your body is probably craving to run again now that your baby is here. Running (or any forms of movement) is great for both your physical and mental health; however, it’s important to ease your body safely towards your running goals considering how many changes and physical stress your body has gone through. At Invigo Physiotherapy, I get asked a lot of questions when it comes to returning to running postpartum. Here I’ve made you a list of common concerns that most runner moms have.

When can I start running after birth?

It’s great that you’re motivated to get back to your run routine, and the answer is: it really depends. Just like each baby and mother, every pregnancy and birth is unique. Returning to running depends on many factors including, your health before and during pregnancy, how active you were, how delivery went for you, and your current energy levels. Checking in with your pelvic floor physiotherapist is your first step to assess whether you’re core-ready for a safe return to run. 

What should I look out for as I get running again after birth?

As you ease back into exercise, these are the signs you have to watch for since it means that your pelvic floor and core muscles aren’t ready to support the activity yet. 

  • Watch for any bulging or tenting at your belly.
  • If you’re leaking while exercising, it’s not normal.
  • If you feel any heaviness or pressure at or near your vagina or perineal area during or after the run, it’s a sign that your body isn’t ready for this exercise intensity level.

How can a pelvic physiotherapist help me run again?

When you’re jumping back to your exercise routine, checking in with your pelvic physiotherapist helps you understand where your starting point is. Getting your pelvic floor checked helps you:

  • Understand your body’s changes.

    Knowing how to reactivate them will prevent future pelvic floor dysfunctions and other aches and pain.

  • Check for abdominal separation.

    Diastasis recti is a normal process that happens during pregnancy; however, it’s important that the laxity at the linea alba is addressed to ensure optimal abdominal muscles function. This can help prevent lower back pain. (Learn more about diastasis rectic or ab separation with our simple guide here!) As always, if you have questions you can always send me a message.

  • Check for pelvic organ prolapse.

    If you are living with prolapse it is important not to run! If you have a sensation of heaviness in your pelvic or crotch area, stop running immediately. If you feel something may fall out of you, stop running immediately. It does not mean you can never run again, but, but a visit to a pelvic physiotherapist is absolutely necessary. Current research supports the effectiveness of pelvic physiotherapy in reversing pelvic organ prolapse at mild stages. 

  • Learn exercises best suited for your body’s recovery after birth.

    It’s essential to restore your core strength but don’t forget that maintaining good thoracic mobility or strong glutes muscles are also important to running without risking future injuries. A pelvic physiotherapist who is knowledgeable about body mechanics and has a Pilates background can provide you with a holistic return-to-run plan.

  • Avoid injury as you get towards your running goals!

    Slow and steady wins the race! It’s an old adage, but, very true as you build up to your running goals after giving birth. Try to build up your endurance slowly as you start. Go for walks with short jogging intervals. Then, gradually build up to longer stretches of running with walking breaks. Hydrate often and always listen to your body!

Remembering, easing back into high impact sports like running, depends greatly on your pelvic floor strength. Have questions about when to return to exercise in general after birth?

Check out our guide on return to postpartum exercise here.

As your local Toronto physiotherapist specializing in pelvic floor care, I encourage all new moms to come in for a check-up at 6 weeks postpartum. I’m happy to welcome you and baby to your appointment. You can message us for  more information, or go ahead and book your appointment now. Happy spring!

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