For many women, returning to running after having a baby is an important exercise goal. Running requires only a small amount of equipment, can be done at very flexible times, and from start to finish can provide a great workout in a shorter amount of time than other forms of exercise. All of these reasons make it very appealing to time-poor new mums. Returning to running can be daunting, with many mums not sure if they are ready to return, how to go about it, and what signs may indicate that a GP or Physio assessment may be required.
So, we’ve put together some tips to get new mums back to running safely.
The pelvic floor
High impact exercise definitely delivers “bang for your buck”, however it is not without risks in the postpartum period. After having a baby, some mothers may have a weakened or injured pelvic floor, which may not be ready to return to running. It is advised that mothers wait at least 3-6 months before returning to running. Women should first consult their GP or Pelvic Health physio prior to commencing running for a pelvic floor screen. This is even more important if you have any leakage (incontinence), or sensation of dragging or vaginal heaviness, or if you know you have a prolapse. These are signs that the pelvic floor is not yet ready for the high loads of running. This is important for all types of delivery, not just vaginal.
Tendons, ligaments and muscles…
The pelvic floor is not the only muscle group that needs to be taken into consideration. Hormonal changes throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding can impact on the laxity of our joints and other connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. This will require a gradual return to running, often starting with a walk/ run program, and slowly progressing from there.
Build into it slowly!
It is also important to remember that you have had a reasonable length of time in which you have not run or been exercising in the same way as you were before pregnancy. Over this time, certain muscle groups required for running may have become weaker. This includes abdominal and leg muscles. So let’s build back into things slowly and not very to run your 10 km PB for your first run back!
Guidelines* have suggested tests for running specific muscle groups to determine readiness to return to running. These test look at strength and function in the calves, glutes, quads, hamstrings as well as balance and functional movements related to running.
If you are keen to return to running, and are not sure if you are ready we are certainly able to help by providing an assessment, and tailored program to get you strong, safe and ready to run.
Best of luck!
*Returning to running postnatal–guidelines for medical, health and fitness professionals managing this population
Author’s-Tom Goom, Gráinne Donnelly and Emma Brockwell
Published – March 2019